Lifestyle & Parenting

Mental Health Difference Makers

November 28, 2017

Through the efforts of advocates across the country, mental health is being acknowledged like never before. This year, CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) is honouring 150 Difference Makers—Canadians who impact change as a result of their mental health research, philanthropy, advocacy, social development or inspiration. Keli Anderson, co-founder of FamilySmart and one of Vancouver’s honourees, explains more below. —Rachel Johnston


Congratulations on being selected as a CAMH Difference Maker. How does it feel to be recognized in this way?

It is humbling to be recognized given that I know of so many people who are making a difference in small and large ways. The recognition feels validating of what all families are facing when their children or youth struggle with mental health challenges.

Tell us about your organization, FamilySmart.

FamilySmart is the coming together of two other organizations I co-founded: The F.O.R.C.E. Society for Kids’ Mental Health and the Institute of Families for Child & Youth Mental Health. We are ordinary and extraordinary people because we are living, working, or care about the mental health of children and youth. FamilySmart is also not just about families. Our approach is Together-Centred, which means whether you are a youth, young adult, family, service provider, professional, you MATTER to us and we encourage and help people see each other as assets. We believe this enhances mental health outcomes for children and youth.

What inspired your passion for mental health advocacy?  

Our son, our daughter, our family and all the thousands of families I have had the privilege of connecting with in the last 17 years. Some were not as fortunate as our family, and good outcomes should be possible more often.

What advice can you provide to those with a family member or friend suffering with mental health challenges?

Don’t believe you are alone or that no one can possibly understand what you are going through or help you. My son is alive because we believed his life, and ours, could be different, and better. I advise others to believe this as well.


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