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Roots of Hope suicide prevention initiative planted in Windsor-Essex County

The Windsor Star – Published Sep 9/21

A coalition of Windsor-Essex County organizations, working in partnership with the Windsor-Essex County branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, has a new tool in the fight to prevent suicide.Called Roots of Hope, the national suicide prevention initiative begun by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, is expanding to include 10 new “early adopter” communities, including Windsor-Essex County.

“When we found out about Roots of Hope, we thought it really aligned itself well with some of the objectives that we were working towards,” said Kim Willis, director of communications and mental health promotion for Canadian Mental Health Association – Windsor Essex County.

Roots of Hope encompasses five “pillars” — training, awareness, restrict, research and support — and involves cross-sector collaboration and a multi-pronged approach to prevention, intervention and post-intervention care.

“Its goal has been to work together on preventing suicides, which includes developing a strategy, highlighting available supports and resources, and working on best practices,” Willis said of the program that began in 2018.“When we learned about Roots of Hope, we loved the idea of being part of a broader national effort for suicide prevention.”

Willis said the folks at CMHA-WEC and coalition partners — including the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, first responders and representatives from school boards, St. Clair College and University of Windsor represents “really a big cross section of the community.” They will use their skills to customize the local program with additional expertise from staff at the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

“We can really learn from our peers and see what other communities are doing and likewise they can learn what we’re doing locally too,” she said.“We hope to be part of a national strategy and learn from other communities and professionals. It will also be helpful to look at national trends and data in our efforts at prevention.”

Roots of Hope isn’t a “one-size-fits-all, fast-food-style approach,” said Michel Rodrigue, MHCC president and CEO. “Because communities build out the program, it reflects their cultural, linguistic and geographic needs.

“There is something powerful about providing a community with the tools and supports to solve its own challenges. It’s the kind of empowerment that will continue, long after the project runs its course.”

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