The Champions of Mental Health Awards initiative was conceived and organized by the North Battleford branch of the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan (RPNAS) last year, with five members of the community being presented awards at the first banquet.
This year, organizers accepted nominations for two awards to be presented to mental health staff, one for supportive employer, one for a community based mental health organization and one for volunteer/volunteer group, and they will be honoured May 7 at the second annual Champions of Mental Health Awards Banquet.
This year's winners are as follows:
The Supportive Employer award goes to Koopmans Auto Body;
One of two Mental Health Staff awards goes to Chris Ebach, extended psych. rehab. facilitator at Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford;
A second Mental Health Staff award goes to Lucy Bendall RPN who works at Battlefords Mental Health Center as a Community Mental Health Nurse, providing community follow up to mental health clients;
The Community Based Mental Health Organization award goes to Marilyn McGown who operates an approved home for mental health clients;
The Volunteer award goes to a group from Shellbrooke, the Shellbrooke Bingo Ladies. They have been coming to SHNB and providing this event for over thirty years.
President of the North Battleford branch of RPNAS, Marion Palidwor, says advocacy for quality integrated mental health services and policy falls within one of the mandates of the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association. The Champions of Mental Health Awards not only acknowledge those in the community who are making a difference in the lives of people living with mental illness, but bring an awareness to the public, locally and further afield, of the continuing need to improve mental health services.
The award recipients are chosen from among nominations submitted naming people deserving of recognition for their contributions to the cause and needs of the mentally ill in the Battlefords area.
Last year's award winners were in the categories of mental health employee, individual volunteer, volunteer group, supportive employer and media promotion. They were registered psychiatric nurse Yvonne Vany, volunteer Brian Neabel, Lutheran Open Door volunteer group, supportive employer Mcdonald's Restaurants and Jayne Foster of the News-Optimist/Regional Optimist.
This year's banquet will be hosting a performance by a comedian who has made a name for himself addressing mental health issues through humour.
Big Daddy Tazz is a father and comedian from Winnipeg who believes the best way to deal with mental illness is to put on a positive face.
The comedian who has helped remove some of the stigma from mental illness through his performances will be in the Battlefords May 7 for the second annual Champions of Mental Health Awards Banquet.
Organizers hope Big Daddy Tazz's insight into mental illness will increase awareness of the need for continued improvement of mental health services. He shares his story through comedy to make a difference for people living with mental illness.
"It's time to give stigma a bad name," he says,
On stage, Big Daddy Tazz, The Bipolar Buddha, shows his willingness to identify and embrace his illness. With loving support from his son, Tazz shares his story with candor and just the right amount of humour to provide insight for people on the impact of bipolar disorder on individuals and their families.
For the last seven years he has run a comedy benefit for the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, which has grown to include over 1,200 guests.