Groups and Community

CMHA – Calgary Region builds awareness and provides education and support for individuals and families with a mental health or substance use concern, or a loss by suicide. We work closely with other community organizations to bridge gaps in the mental health care system and facilitate access to important services and resources.

CMHA – Calgary Region offers a range of mental health education programs for students, community groups, workplaces and organizations. Topics include mental illness, stigma, stress management and more.

CMHA Calgary’s YouthSMART (Youth Supporting Mental Health And Resiliency Together), has been under programmatic redevelopment, to ensure that we are delivering the right supports in schools based on the changing concerns of youth in our community.

We are now offering our Stress Management and Mental Health sessions through Teacher-Led Learning Sessions accessible through our online portal. Each session is designed to fit into an individual class period. Click here to access the materials. A CMHA Education Specialist will follow-up with you to see if you have any questions about our materials. If you have any questions or concerns please email

In addition, we are pleased to announce an expanded student engagement initiative, launching September 2017.

Think of youth engagement as a paradigm within your community where everyone – especially adults – thinks of, speaks of and involves youth in the same meaningful ways. The new initiative has been designed to provide youth with the tools and knowledge to effectively support their own mental wellness, while empowering them to create school-wide capacity and lead unique campaigns amongst their peers.

This new initiative includes optional programs such as:

  • A CMHA Education Specialist, in conjunction with the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, working in your school to guide the development and implementation of youth-led, mental health capacity building campaigns
  • CMHA’s annual YouthSMART Youth Mental Health Summit, October 19, 2017
  • CMHA’s Suicide Awareness learning session, facilitated face-to-face in schools
  • Living Life to the Full, an 8 hour program for youth based on cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Community Helpers, a 10 hour peer training program for your school’s natural helpers
  • Ongoing support and training opportunities throughout the academic school year, for both teachers and students

We would like to invite your school to take part in the YouthSMART initiative, free of cost. In order to participate, a formal commitment must be made by school administration. This commitment would require:

  • A teacher or guidance counsellor, designated by administration, working with students on the initiative throughout the year
  • Attendance of designated teacher at two short CMHA training sessions, during or outside of school hours
  • Attendance of designated teacher, and up to 8 student ambassadors at a full day Youth Mental Health Summit, October 2017, and two half day touch points, November 2017, and February 2018
  • Time and resources for designated teacher and ambassador students to design and implement various school-wide mental health week activities, May 2018.

More information about our program is available at Additionally, to understand more about youth engagement please check out this video: What Is Youth Engagement?

 If your school is interested in participating in the YouthSMART initiative for the 2017-2018 school year or would like more information in regards to teacher education or sessions in schools, please contact


“Included in the form is the opportunity for students to identify anyone (including themselves) who would benefit from a meeting with their counsellor to discuss personal concerns / questions related to the presentation. I’ve come to believe that many of these same students might not have otherwise come forward without this vital, ground-level work. I am confident in saying that between the presentation and follow-up feedback, lives have truly been saved. I credit the long-standing partnership we have with the CMHA presenters and their suicide awareness program.” – Calgary teacher / Counsellor

“A noticeable change has been noted since CMHA started the Suicide Prevention and Awareness program with all our Grade 10’s. Not only do our students benefit from your educational programs but our teachers and support staff do as well. They have become more aware of mental health issues and now know how best to get support for themselves and others in their lives. Students are now more comfortable coming in to talk about suicide or concerns they have regarding their peers. This is a direct result of your team’s excellent experience in this area.”– Calgary teacher

“Considering our duties as educators and adults in society who are responsible for helping to guide, inform, and prepare young adults, I certainly believe that the work Canadian Mental Health does with youth is of value. Having specialized individuals visit classrooms provides rich information that teachers may not know, or have access to, and provides students with a sense of authenticity around the issues. In addition, as specialists presenters have consistently provided in depth information which creates a sense of connectedness to real life situations that students appreciate and respond well to.”– Calgary teacher

“The Canada Mental Health Association has made a tremendous impact in the education of our students. Our students are faced with so much contradicting information about mental health that having CMHA come in and provide the appropriate materials to our students is essential. The range of topics that are covered is diverse and each student has the capacity to walk away with valuable life changing information.”– Calgary teacher

Adult Mental Health Education sessions work to break through the stigma related to mental illness and promote mental health and wellness. Topics include mental illness and stigma, stress management, and suicide awareness.

Sessions are developed and delivered by qualified educators and are offered in an interactive format with accompanying resource materials and community contact information.

Sessions are available to adult-based educational institutions, community organizations and workplaces. Reduced fees are available for non-profit groups. For further information on fees or to book a session please contact us at 403-297-1722 or email

Sessions Available

The Stigma of Mental Illness 1 in 5 Calgarians will experience a mental illness at some point in their life, yet everyday Calgarians suffer in silence. Through this session, participants gain a greater understanding of mental illness. Attendees will learn about the most common mental illnesses, symptoms and treatment methods, what life can be like for people who have mental illness, as well as where and when to seek help for themselves or others.

Coping with Stress 1 in 6 Canadians have thought about suicide when under stress. Clearly stress management is a life skill that all people should have in their back pocket, and this session aims to provide that. By assessing their own stress and sampling some coping techniques, attendees leave equipped with the necessary tools to manage their stress.

Suicide Awareness The Suicide Awareness Education Service helps prevent suicide through comprehensive awareness building in the community. The sessions target suicide stigma and create a better understanding of this important issue by covering topics like warning signs and myths, as well as how and where to turn for help.

Booking policies

  • Confirmation of session type, date and time is required. Please contact our Community Education team.
  • All sessions require the use of a computer and LCD projector. The set-up of this equipment is required prior to the presentation.
  • Sessions can only take place during the timeframe agreed upon, if you require additional time, please contact our Community Education team who can assist with this.
  • Any cancellations must be made at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled session. Otherwise, a fee will be charged.

Failure to adhere to these policies may result in the loss of booking privileges.

For further information on fees or to book a session please contact us at 403-297-1722 or email

Do you have people in your community that are natural listeners and wise in their compassion to help others? Do you have youth in your organization that have a natural ability to help their peers? Have you ever wanted to increase your own helping skills?

The Community Helpers Program is an Alberta Health Services initiative that seeks community and family members, peers and friends, who demonstrate a genuine interest to care for people’s wellbeing. The program aims to enhance supportive skills, but emphasises the importance of self-care, knowing how to take care of ourselves and recognize our own limits as helpers.

The program resulted from peer support research that concludes the majority of people go to a caring individual before consulting a health care professional. The Community Helpers Program wishes to bridge existing supportive people in the community, or Community Helpers, with health care professionals and resources. Together, this strategy of bridging supportive community helpers with professional community supports, increases awareness of community resources, reduces isolation of people impacted by mental illness, and increases community resiliency overall.

How do I become a Community Helper?

There are two ways people or organizations can become involved.

The first is the preferred method of training where anonymous surveys are provided to community or school members to identify people within the school, workplace, or community who already demonstrate a natural ability to help. Once these individuals are identified they are able to attend the training.

The second way to be involved is to host a community helpers training for your workplace, school, or community group without the nominations. For this training we may tailor the session to suite the specific needs of the people attending the training session.

What should I expect from training?

The Community Helpers Program aims to strengthen people’s helping skills with more formal training and increase their knowledge of community resources. We cover topics such as: ethics of helping, limits of a helper, stress/self-care, healthy relationships, mental health, drugs and alcohol, and suicide awareness.  The training follows best practice standards and uses a variety of engagement styles such as art, group work, digital videos, mini-lectures and role plays.

How long does training take and is there a cost?

There is no cost to implement the program within your school, workplace, or community.

The full program is 8-10 hours in length. For best results, we suggest three, three hour sessions or five two hour sessions to comfortably complete the full 10 hour training.  However, we can tailor the program to meet the needs of most schedules. For instance, we can fit specific topics of the program within 60 to 90 minute sessions.


For Junior or Senior High Schools: We recommend a school Guidance Counselor or specified teacher to act as the leading liaison for each school’s Community Helpers. The goal is to continue to support students as natural helpers, so an engaged adult is best.

Surveys to identify Community Helpers will be given prior to training and must be administered by the identified liaison of the school. Once the surveys are complete, the school will be able to identify which students were nominated for the training.

For adults, agency, and community groups: please contact to set up the program.

For any more information on the Community Helpers training or to book Community Helpers training, please email


“I think every school should implement this program because of the huge impact that it has on the helpers and their peers.  We know that many students are turning to their peers for support and their peers don’t know what to do or where to go next.  Community Helpers supports youth with helping their peers and connects students to the existing supports and services in the community.  I highly recommend this program for any school.  Christie was absolutely fantastic at delivering the information, tailoring the program to the needs of the school and interacting with and engaging the students.” –  guidance counselor, Branton Jr

“The Community Helpers Program is such a unique learning experience for youth. As I participated, it became clear to me that we simply do not talk openly enough to our students about mental health, how to access help and deal with crisis. Christie is knowledgeable and delivers the content of the program in such a youth friendly manner.  The students enjoyed the content and were engaged throughout. As a school guidance counselor, I simply lack the time to access the student body. Now, I have certified helpers who are working effectively and ethically within the school as issues arise. The peer helpers also inform me when they encounter situations beyond their competency. I believe this small group of peer helpers is going to make a big impact on the social, emotional and mental well-being of our school. – guidance counsellor, Madeleine D’houet and St. Bonaventure

Reach out for help

Contact the Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Region for more information at (403) 297-1700 or email: