Meet Lisa Ridell, Jasper, Alberta
Finding purpose in the community
Lisa Ridell is a Rural Mental Health Network Animator living in Jasper, Alberta. She moved to Jasper in 2006 to live in the Rocky Mountains. Lisa says, "I came for the mountains; I stayed for the people and the community."
Lisa became an Animator because she wanted to be a part of the solution to reducing stigma through encouraging openness and acceptance around mental health and mental health challenges. Lisa notes, "Mental health stigma still exists. We see harm occur when mental health is not acknowledged in the way physical health is acknowledged."
The importance of community trust
A mental health community team established in Jasper in the 1990s is still thriving today. Lisa says, "I am proud to work alongside frontline outreach workers here in Jasper. It's inspiring on a daily basis. These workers are holding space for people during incredibly challenging, vulnerable times. I was an outreach worker for a short time, and some of the stories that I've heard have really impacted my life and changed my perspective." She is proud to be a part of a community that cares about the mental health of those living in Jasper.
Jasper's mental health community team received a grant from the Rural Mental Health Project to support their work. The community team's primary goals have been to promote community connection and increase accessible programming available to Jasper residents. Lisa explains, "Our ultimate goal is to decrease loneliness and isolation. We consulted with the people we hoped would benefit from our programs to ensure that they were co-created by the people we serve."
The Jasper community team is always thinking of new program ideas. They are dedicated to building trust with the people they want input from. It's also important to connect those harder-to-reach audiences with professionals around the table in the community. Lisa shares, "When you have people already connected to the Jasper community, you see those people bringing specific perspectives, including those from New Canadians and marginalized groups." When the community team developed their Newcomer Network, they didn't have money for food. The team decided to put some of their grant funding towards the food for the meetings. The participation went way up. "Accessible, welcoming programs help us build trust slowly," she says.
Building community initiatives
Lisa is excited about many new and upcoming initiatives designed to support mental health in Jasper. The grant money has provided the opportunity to launch additional library programming. Lisa says, "This is something we're so excited about. This has been talked about for years in town, and finally, having the grant money to launch it is wonderful." This initiative has seen a lot of interest, and the Jasper community has shown a lot of interest.
Jasper's local movie theatre closed while the community team discussed how they would allocate the grant. Lisa explains, "It was a real loss. It was a space for youth that was safe and fun." The community team purchased audio equipment and a large movie screen to continue hosting movie nights and other great programs. Lisa is excited about this initiative because of how accessible movies are. They can host movies in different languages, and include closed captions, and many can attend with a variety of diverse abilities.
The community team has also provided ways for the Jasper community to activate its existing parks and green spaces. Lisa says, "The parks are beautiful, but if you don't have the equipment, you're just sitting on the grass. We bought giant Jenga, bocce balls, spike balls and more. This is free gear for the community to use while enjoying our green spaces."
Community support for everyone
Lisa is grateful for the opportunity to see the Jasper community team's ideas come to life. She says, "We are a group of people who care about this community and are focused on creating conditions where people can thrive across their lifespans." The engagement from the community and the collaborative commitment to foster wellbeing for everyone allows Lisa and the community team to focus on people, not problems. "We want to create something reflective of the community we're serving."