The Covid-19 pandemic, which has plagued the world over the past few years, has led to tremendous impacts on the mental health of Canadians across the country.
Crowsnest Pass was not spared from this problem, as there are those in the community, like anywhere else, that either have struggled or are currently struggling with their mental health.
For over 50 years, Crowsnest Community Support Society, a non-profit organization, has sought to promote and support a better quality of life for the members of its community.
CCSS aims to aid and support individuals dealing with various disabilities, and those closest to them, while offering both existing and new services, depending on the needs of the community.
In recent years, the CCSS mandate has come to include a focus on mental health.
In November 2021, through the Crowsnest Rural Mental Wellness Coalition program, the Pick-Me-Up Baskets initiative was launched. Janice Pounder, rural mental health animator and program co-ordinator, oversees the project.
Through social media posts, Janice gets word out about the initiative to members of the community, who then nominate those they feel might be having a tough time or that are in a dark place and could use a Pick-Me-Up basket to brighten their day.
Janice notes the nominee’s name and number, then reaches out to them about the nomination so she can get their address. Baskets are put together and personally delivered by Janice to those nominated by their community.
Initially through a grant, Janice would go into town and pick out various goodies like crosswords, word searches, epsom salts, lots of self-help tips in the form of articles and books, and much more for the baskets.
As word got out about the initiative, members of the community began donating baskets, gift cards, samples from local businesses and more, in an effort to support a project that in turn supports the community.
The Pick-Me-Up Basket program has been running for just over a year now and has already had a tremendous impact on the community. Janice has seen this firsthand.
“It’s phenomenal the response you get,” she says. “I’ve had people cry, I’ve had people laugh, I’ve had people hug me, people want me to stay for dinner or visit again — it’s a well received initiative. It’s all about putting a smile on peoples faces and brightening their day.”
Through community nominations, 170 people have received baskets so far.
The Pick-Me-Up Basket initiative not only supports those with mental health struggles, but also acts as a conduit in helping open up the conversation about mental health, one which is often difficult to start.
“Mental health is a really important thing to talk about and we need to open the conversation so everyone feels like they can talk about it,” Janice says.
If you’d like to make a donation to aid the Pick-Me-Up Baskets project or would like to nominate a Crowsnest Pass resident to receive one, you can give Janice a call at 403-563-3585 ext. 22 or at 403-563-4291.