Supporting Mental Health & Resiliency for 20+ Years
“We lend a hand, a listening ear and a compassionate heart.”
We’re always curious about careers in mental health. How did you get into it?
This is a 20-year-long story. For a decade, I was a frontline social worker for the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society. My husband is fourth generation law enforcement. My two beautiful daughters deal daily with mental health issues and special needs. My professional life became my personal advocacy because mental health lives in my house through Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), anxiety, depression and the aftermath of bullying. We all came out on the other side — different and resilient.
And from that experience, you created Embracing Empowerment Counselling Services?
Exactly. I felt my community needed me to be there for them, too. I had more to offer because my life experience was not like the rest. I introduced free mental health checkups in Ottawa in April 2016. Other mental health industries followed suit. To heal, we cannot go over or under our trauma; we must go through the pain. In doing so, we tell each other we are not alone.
Who did you most want to support?
Mental health does not discriminate. I help first responders, the military or veterans, as well as our corrections, probation and parole officers struggling with unimaginable issues. I also work with children, teens and the vulnerable.
You have lived this career fully. What is your number one takeaway?
Own your story. I was told that sharing our story is weakness, but to build competency in the private sector, be vulnerable and connect. Sharing my story allows clients to know it’s okay to not be okay.
And number two?
Supporting Bill C 211. I stood with MP Todd Doherty, who proposed this legislation. He started the conversation for a national PTSD framework for our first responders, including the RCMP, our soldiers and our vets. The Bill received the Royal Assent on June 21, 2018 and now has become a Federal Act. I was 100 per cent behind this initiative from the start.
I used to be a passionate planner of the future. But, the future is unpredictable. Now, I ask of myself: “Love what I do, do what I love every single day, help just one person.” If I can do that, I know I did a good job in making sure my clients know they are not alone. And that is enough. And it’s everything.
Photographer: Lindsey Gibeau
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