Meet Lorrenda Southern - Part 2
Lorrenda Southern is a Community Animator in the town of Drumheller, Alberta. She leads a community subcommittee focused on mental health in Drumheller, Starland and Hanna, allowing these communities to engage in mental health collaboration.
COVID-19 impacted the work of Lorrenda’s subcommittee, but she is proud of the innovative ideas created to overcome the challenges. She says, “We were electronically worn out when COVID hit. Our committee felt they wanted to do something hands-on. This led to the creation of what we call ‘a street guide.’”
The Street Guide
Lorrenda notes that mental health is not black and white but exists on a spectrum. The street guide emphasizes this fluidity and is a resource that helps individuals identity their symptoms and find appropriate resources. She explains, “Individuals see the different symptoms and can learn about what resources are available within the community to help when they are ready.”
The street guide has been successful and widely shared across Alberta. Lorrends says, “We provided 150 street guides to a Starbucks manager, and he gave them to his staff. The staff keep them in their pockets for customers that come through.” The committee has seen huge success in the distribution of this resource in their community and beyond.
Equipping the Community
Beyond the street guide, the mental health committee encourages mental health first aid, ASSIST training and the Small Talk training. Local daycares have been equipped with training opportunities and resources to better understand trauma informed care for kids. The goal is for everyone within the community to feel better equipped to support others accessing mental health supports.
As things move back to in-person, Lorrenda’s committee is also working to bring in guest speakers to speak about their journeys with mental health. Lorrenda sees in-person interactions has opportunities for more human approaches to the mental health conversation. With COVID restrictions lifting, Lorrenda is hopeful there will be an increase in in-person events to amplify the mental health conversation within the community.
“Man, Are You Okay?”
A noteworthy event titled “Man, are you okay?” featured Christopher Johnson, an individual who has worked in the oil fields and speaks on mental health in the oil trades sector. The documentary Digging in the Dirt was developed with Christopher Johnson and his discussion of the film can be viewed here.
Looking to the Future
Lorrenda recognizes the need to continue bridging the gap between resource workers and the community. Her goal is to continue to provide more panel opportunities for members to easily access the relevant resources. Lorrenda recognizes that as a community, we must understand the culture and approach it so people feel heard. Lorrenda acknowledges that needs of rural communities vary, even ones close in distance to one another. Lorrenda says she believes collaboration is the key to developing a happy balance between unique communities.