You can start off 2023 by contributing to the mental well-being of the Cochrane community by becoming a Community Helper.  

Those that are interested in learning helping skills, self-care for helpers, and mental health and suicide awareness can enroll in a free Community Helpers Program.  

It is a peer support training program that promotes mental well-being for youth and young adults ages 12-30.  

The training is for people 18 years of age and older and is an eight-week virtual program. The program will run Tuesdays during the lunch hour. 

The goal is to equip natural helpers in the community with helping skills that they can utilize to catch problems before they become serious. Helpers also promote professional support when needed. Meghan Vornholt Community Liaison & Programmer for Community Helpers says, “Our goal is to be able to support people and skills as a preventative mental health strategy. Some people innately have these skills, and a lot of people just know what to do but the training is there to support people and gain some more confidence and build connections with other Community Helpers.” 

Vornholt says, “Most of the time people go to people in their social circles for help before they'll access formal supports like counselling, etc, or even FCSS. So, we're training people to be able to be good listeners for the people in their lives. We are teaching them about the professional services we have locally, how to handle some crisis situations, self-care, and boundaries also to make sure that they stay healthy.” 

Often youth and young adults are more inclined to turn to peers, parents, teachers, coaches, managers, volunteers, mentors, or youth allies before asking for professional help. If these everyday people are trained to respond to those in need it becomes a part of a network and a mentally supportive community.  

Helpers are not meant to replace professional professionals but are the first go-to that helps to steer someone in the right direction to obtain professional support.  

Through the Community Helpers program, individuals will learn to: 

  • Help youth and young adults who are struggling. 
  • Learn how to take care of your own well-being during your role as a helper.  
  • Gain knowledge about mental health and suicide awareness and other issues experienced by youth and young adults.  
  • Become knowledgeable about professional resources in the community and how to access them. 

Once you have completed the eight-week training, you will receive a certificate and will be able to receive additional training should it be offered.  

Another option for training will be a full day of in-person training in February at the FCSS office if people would rather do that instead of the online lunch and learn.  

A third option breaks down the presentation into individual modules that can be taken one at a time at the Cochrane Public Library. The first one is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28 in the evening. 

For more information on the Community Helpers Program call  FCSS at 403-851-2250. Register for the online program HERE.