Mental Health Promotion on the North Shore


The CAPC programs in the First Years Count coalition on the North Shore are working hard to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. Using their popular Learning Together Through Play program and their Breastfeeding and Postpartum Group, at the I hope family centre, coalition member Family Services of the North Shore is working in three key ways to address this priority area of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Beyond the Blues

The I hope family centre’s Learning Together Through Play (drop-in program) partners with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Beyond the Blues each year to offer a Depression Anxiety Education Day at each of its two centres. This CMHA initiative helps people learn the signs of depression and anxiety, and related issues like mania, suicide and risky drinking. Beyond the Blues materials assist participants in how and when to get help and empowers them to connect with local support.

This event is free and is held during regular program time, as a way to broadly spread the message of mental health awareness. Because the event is held during the regularly scheduled program, it attracts a wide range of participants including moms, dads, caregivers and grandparents. The purpose of the event is to provide education and raise awareness, not provide diagnoses. Family Services of the North Shore Counsellors are available on site during these education sessions.

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Group

Lactation Consultant , Marianne Brophy, runs this weekly drop-in program for pregnant and post partum women on the North Shore of Vancouver. This program engages a diverse and multicultural group of moms from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and family structures. This rich environment is key to supporting women in addressing the many challenges of early parenting including postpartum adjustment and baby blues; night time parenting and sleeping; nutrition for moms and families; working/studying and breastfeeding; and sexuality and contraception.

The program receives referrals from a variety of sources including

current and past participants, the hospital, community health nurses, doctors, midwives and other programs. When the babies get a bit older the parents often transition from this program to the Learning Together Through Play program, continuing their involvement with Family Services of the North Shore.

Counselling Program

A Registered Clinical Counsellor and/or a Registered Social Worker are available twice a week during Learning Together Through Play and are always available for referrals and staff support. Director of Community & Provincial Programs, Mimi Hudson and Program Manager, Corinna Opitz, reflected that CAPC funding has provided their agency with an anchor from which to apply for additional grants, enabling them to offer this type of comprehensive support.

Check out more about the Beyond the Blues program here.