Retired faculty member supports mental health advocacy
Arlene Aish has seen mental illness impact her students and patients over the years, which influenced her decision to volunteer with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), a community-based voluntary organization dedicated to enhancing, maintaining and promoting the mental and emotional well-being of all individuals.
“As I was about to retire, I was looking for a way to get more involved in the community. I had long been concerned about mental health issues even though not working directly in the field. When I was a public health nurse I encountered people whose lives had been seriously disrupted by mental illness,” says Dr. Aish, a former faculty member in the School of Nursing.
Dr. Aish has served with CMHA’s Kingston branch since 1997 and currently sits on the board of governors as treasurer. Along with other volunteers, she supports the local activities of the CMHA by seeking financial from individuals, corporations, or foundations like United Way.
Queen’s students have supported the CMHA in multiple ways. This past October students in Commerce organized the Queen’s Wears Green event to raise funds for the CMHA and combat the stigma around mental illness. Students from Medicine and Nursing have done fieldwork at the Kingston branch, developing mental health assessment tools and participating in community needs assessment and health teaching programs. Students from many departments have also volunteered with the branch’s programs for children.
The United Way serving Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington supports a number of prevention and health promotion programs run by the CMHA in Kingston. These include the Please Listen group for children between ages six and 13, the Information and Referral program, the Public Education program that includes workshops on topics like anger management, and Mental Health First Aid that allows people to help others who are developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
The Queen’s retiree community is a leading contributor to the United Way among Canadian universities. In 2010 Queen’s retirees contributed $108,000, a significant part of the total Queen’s contributions of $326,000.
Queen’s staff and community may donate to the United Way campaign by returning a pledge card to the Human Resources department (Fleming Hall, Stewart-Pollock Wing) or by sending it through campus mail.
Visit the Canadian Mental Health Association, Kingston to find out more about its programs and resources.