Animator Training

The aim of the project is to enable rural and remote municipalities to improve mental health outcomes by building local capacity and action teams. The RMHP offers free training and funding to community members across Alberta who want to be a Community Animator and start a conversation about mental health and wellbeing in their community. 

The RMHP uses the 8 Domain model, adapted from the social determinants of health, to describe and illustrate the different features of our communities that impact our mental health. Upstream approaches that target these domains in our communities can reduce the need and demand for services, tackling the complexity of community mental health in a holistic way.

  • Module 1 (Online Self-Directed): Understanding the Rural Mental Health Project and Network
  • Module 2 (Online Self-Directed): Learning About Community
  • Module 3 (Virtual- live via zoom): Your Community Journey – Preparing for the Trip
  • Module 4 (Virtual- live via zoom): Healthy Community Impact
  • Module 5 (Virtual- live via zoom): Growing Community Connections
  • Module 6 (Virtual- live via zoom): Working Collectively
  • Module 7 (Online Self-Directed): Supporting Community Initiatives

After completing Module 7, Animators will receive a Certificate of Completion and the funding will be transferred to the backbone organization supporting the Animator. The grant term is 1 year from the start of training and a summary report will be due at the end of the term.

Once an Animator has completed training, they have access to all RMH Network events and are eligible to apply for RMH Community Grants.

CMHA AB will provide the following support to community Animators through their local community-based organization (backbone organization). The Table below provides an overview of how project funds can be used to support Animator Training through two different funding streams. If a local agency would like to cover Animator training salary as an in-kind expense, we recommend the Micro-grant funding stream.




Live Virtual Training



Homework and Animator Meetings



Online Training



Animator Facilitation in community



Community Travel & Discretionary Fund




What is an Animator?

When we think of an Animator, we think of a person who can bring life and colour – from a still image to a moving story. In the Rural Mental Health Project, the Animator is someone who is interested in bringing life to a conversation around supporting mentally healthy communities.

Animators are not meant to be managers, coordinators or experts, but to be facilitative leaders who create and inspire the conditions for community empowerment. This is done by building new relationships and social connections and having exploratory conversations. Animators will go through training to build their capacity and understanding of mental health, mental illness, mentally healthy community and collective decision-making and facilitation. Through their training, Animators will have the tools, expertise, and support to bring together community groups who can collectively become visionaries, decision-makers and do-ers together. The training will build their understanding of mental health, mental illness, wellness, supporting collaborative community-direction setting, and decision-making.

Who can be an Animator?

  • Anyone living outside of the 7 urban centers in Alberta
  • Any community member with an interest in catalyzing a conversation around mental health and wellbeing
  • Animators live locally, not a place they wok or travel to, to ensure action teams are truly community-led and owned, while also reducing mileage and demands of Animators having to travel from town to town.

What is the Animator's role?

  • Connect with the Rural Mental Health Network through the online website and other means
  • Convene a community action team with diverse stakeholders
    • Encourage and stimulate full participation by all community members; with special attention to those who may be forgotten, marginalized and overlooked in community decision making
  • Facilitate ongoing action team meetings over one year
    • Help develop trust, tolerance and co-operation among community members;
    • Begin and support ongoing collective mapping of community assets, while monitoring social change and new social information relevant to your community;
    • Motivate and encourage action team members to work together and to talk to their fellow community members about community well-being;
  • Assist with collective decision-making, as the action team determines which pillars and actions need attention
    • Empower communities to set direction and work collectively to support a mentally health community;
    • Assist the community in collecting or obtaining information and knowledge that may be available;
    • Assist community members in generating solutions
  • Help create a Transformational Roadmap and action plans with community-leading leading the content
    • Encourage and stimulate community members to organize, plan, implement, and monitor actions that they define through Transformational Road Mapping activities aimed at solving their problems;
    • Provide community action teams with knowledge, tools, and activities to get community members interested, organized and motivated;
    • Assist the community in obtaining available outside resources that align with their Transformational Roadmap activities;
    • Assist the community members in developing their own capacity and strength with the goal of the community action team no longer needing an Animator in the future.

What is an Action Team?

Action Teams can be very different from community to community. Action Teams can include local stakeholders, including community members, Elders, people with lived experiences, agencies, educators, and community associations.

Some communities may opt for a more formal style, meeting on a regular schedule and have more formal plans. Other communities may prefer an informal style with a group who comes together in the evening or weekends at a coffee shop or local events. There is no right prescription!

Within the project, we see Action Teams as groups of citizens who are working together in the way that works for them. It includes bringing together diverse stakeholders (i.e., agency and non-agency community members, educators, family members, local governments, businesses and more) to determine what a mentally healthy community with mentally healthy people looks like locally. Action Teams should collaboratively participate in collective planning and decision-making to determine which mental health pillars and actions need attention. What each Animator and action team does in their community will differ, as each community is unique.

Together, Action Teams may: 

  • Discover – Exploring and mapping the community to learn more about their community, their dreams, dissatisfaction and more. This includes learning about the perspectives of others on community wellbeing. It can also include learning about the assets that are already there and building on those strengths in creative ways. Together, the community can create a collective vision or “north star” that guides what they would like to achieve in their community to be a more mentally healthy place.
  • Develop – Beginning to decide which areas are important to get started immediately and which can be considered in the future. The aim is to start with the ideas that are already attracting attention and energy. These discussions can help the community to create a Transformational Roadmap and Action Plans surrounding those mental health and community wellbeing priorities.
  • Design – Detailing the plans and logistics that align with the Roadmap and Action Plans; thinking about working across different initiatives and agencies or groups to increase impact.
  • Deploy – Taking action! This includes making adjustments and paying attention to patterns or opportunities that are beginning to grow.
  • Debrief – Reflecting, observing, and learning from one another. It is key to hear and learn from all insights and perspectives, share stories (the good and the bad) and celebrate the wins! Together, this reflection can help inform a new Discovery (see above).

Who are the Backbones?

The backbone organizations are local community-based organizations that have agreed to support the Animator in varying levels of capacity. To date, FCSS has supported the majority of the Animators, but any organization can step into the role, depending on the best fit for the community. Backbones may also work across multiple communities. If there are multiple communities located in your municipality/region, each community can identify an Animator. In some cases, through networks and expertise, backbones may find interested individuals to take the Training and become Animators, in other instances an Animator may approach a backbone looking for support. Either approach is fine and will depend on the unique circumstances and connections of the community and individual.

We encourage Backbone Organizations to provide as much support to the Animator and action team as possible. As connectors and local experts, local community-based organizations can provide valuable backbone support to the Animators and action teams by fostering relationships and amplifying community efforts. Organization characteristics that will support Animators & coalitions include:

  • Maintain a broad view of mentally health, wellness, and mentally healthy communities.
  • Amplify and uphold the coalitions’ visions for a mentally healthy community, roadmaps direction, actions, and activities.
  • Assist in preserving the social infrastructure of the coalition for ongoing community-led discussions.
  • Avoid becoming prescriptive in coalition meetings to ensure equal voices amongst community members and professionals.
  • Encourage the maintenance of roadmaps and connections to the Rural Mental Health Network.
  • Support a culture of respect and collective learning.
  • Build supportive relationships, which will look different across communities but encourage ongoing participation and community-led leadership.
  • Share information on the project to interested stakeholders

Role (Required):

  • Dedicate one organizational contact to the RMH project
  • The contact person should be someone with signing authority, as we will send a Letter of Understanding to each backbone
    • If those with signing authority do not have the capacity to check-in with us and the Animator, another person in the organization can be assigned
  • In discussion with the Animator, choose a funding path
    • Animator Compensation- Training & action team facilitation compensation to Animator(s)
    • Microgrant- Used to support the Animators and Action Team’s success and increase participation
  • Review and sign a Letter of Understanding with CMHA AB that outlines the relationship and accountability pieces between the backbone organization and CMHA AB
  • Build a path to receive funds from CMHA and spend funds based on the arranged pathway
  • Submit a project Summary Report (template will be given) to CMHA at the end of the funding term, reflecting the Animator(s)’ training and facilitation journey

Role (Non-required, but nice to have):

  • If available, support action team to submit, manage, and report back on potential micro-grants provided (through CMHA or a third-party) to support the success of community-generated activities and reducing barriers to participation.
  • Support the Animator(s) in their role, as necessary. This will vary but includes:
    • Assisting in connecting chosen Animator(s) with community stakeholders
    • Providing in-kind donations (e.g. meeting space, refreshments, technological support)
    • Relational support to Animator(s) and action team members.
    • Support action team transformational activities throughout implementation
  • Funding of community-led activities

Sign up for Training!