MHFA Banner Image 8

MHFA Master Trainers

I felt like this was a fun and intense training. Without the Master Trainer’s positive approach I am not sure I would have felt as comfortable. I felt energized each day.

MHFA Master Trainers

MHFA Canada delivers instructor training for all versions of MHFA across the country.  Our core group of Master Trainers, along with our Training and Delivery Specialist, ensure all candidates receive the highest quality experience and best mentoring possible. 

Our Master Trainers in their own words:

Denise Waligora

MHFA Training and Delivery Specialist

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth
  • MHFA Seniors
  • MHFA Northern Peoples
  • MHFA Inuit

Denise Waligora is MHFA's Training and Delivery Specialist.

Twenty-four years ago when I started my first job in mental health as a nurse working in a psychiatric hospital I could not have imagined my journey would bring me to Canada but most importantly to Mental Health First Aid.  Along the way, I have worked as a Residential Program Director, Crisis Worker and Case Manager. 

When I attended the Basic Instructor training in 2008, it truly enhanced my skills as a Case Manager.  In early 2010, I attended the Youth Instructor training and was trained as a Master Trainer later that year.  At that point; this was the highlight of my career, little did I know that 10 months later I would undertake my current position of Training and Delivery Specialist.  That truly was a life changing moment and I realized I had been working my entire career in mental health to arrive at this point.  I embraced this role completely and MHFA is not just what “I do” but it has become part of who I am. 

Every instructor training I facilitate is a gift for me as I have the opportunity to pass along my passion for MHFA and trust our instructors give their all with every course delivered.  I am confident that MHFAiders across Canada play a pivotal role in supporting recovery; we all have the ability to be involved.  A participant wrote the following, “this course makes me want to be a better human being”; that is the impact of MHFA. 

 

 

Karen Poole

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth
  • MHFA Seniors
  • MHFA Veteran Community

Karen Poole MSW (equiv) is a registered social worker with 35 years of experience both in the UK and in Canada. Her areas of specialty include mental health, children, families and custody and access evaluations. Karen was a social worker at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, where she was also Chief of social work from 2008 – 2012. Karen has presented at many conferences on mental health and provided numerous sessions on issues related to mental health and wellness. 

The MHFA program is something about which Karen feels great passion. All of us will at some point in life experience a mental health problem ourselves or be close to someone who does. The notion that every Canadian could know how to help someone with a mental health problem is both exciting and essential.

Karen was trained in adult education at St. Francis Xavier University. She therefore brings to training not only knowledge, skills and experience in mental health, but also the ability to bring the training alive so that participants can talk about mental health in a manner that is understandable, accessible and enjoyable.

Karen is a Master Trainer in MHFA Basic and MHFA for Adults who Interact with Youth. As such Karen’s approach to Master training is to ensure a safe, professional and pleasant learning environment, where participants are coached through the MHFA programme and draw on their strengths to be the authentic trainer that they aspire to be. 

New instructors can succeed by preparing carefully, being organized and bringing their personality and passion to the training.
 

 

Carla Abichahine

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth

Carla’s personal experience with mental health problems is the motivation behind all her work.   She believes in empowering people to help others.  Carla wants to live in a world where everyone is respected regardless of the baggage they carry -   including mental health problems.

As an MHFA instructor, Carla thrives on increasing participants’ knowledge regarding mental health issues and decreasing the stigma associated with this topic.  People are scared of what they don’t know. They see that there is a problem, yet they feel unable to help. MHFA training helps individuals develop their understanding and confidence so that they are no longer afraid to support someone who needs help. Participants report that the training changes the way they “look” at people who may be struggling with mental health problems. It increases their compassion.   One of the most gratifying moments in trainings is when participants show the “Aha” moments that expresses the fact that learning is happening!!  That is very rewarding.

As a Master Trainer, Carla’s goal is to equip all instructors to succeed.  In addition to delivering the train the trainer course, she shares her knowledge in adult education.  Carla is always open to learning new information from the participants.  Every one brings their own expertise! 

To be successful as a MHFA instructor, the trainer needs to bring their passion for the topic, believe in the content of the course and themselves and want to be agents of change.

 

 

Tracy Golnick

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth
  • MHFA Seniors

I have worked in the field of mental health in various capacities since 1999. I started on the front line and worked up too senior management; including education and promotion, housing, RCMP emergency communications, disaster social services and critical incident stress management across both Alberta and the Yukon.

When I received a co-facilitator status in MHFA Basic in 2007 I never imagined where my journey with MHFA would take me or the amazing people I would have the opportunity to work with, teach and share my passion with. In 2008, I became a certified MHFA for People who Interact with Youth instructor. In 2010 I had the opportunity to participate on the steering committee for the development for the MHFA for Northern Peoples course and in 2011, I joined an amazing team of Master Trainers. I believe the training should be fun, informative and realistic. Being a Master Trainer has enable to me to share my passion and foster future instructors in owning the information and making it “come alive” for their participants while ensuring fidelity to MFHA Canada is adhered to. To best succeed as an instructor one must be passionate about mental health, educating those around them and have an appreciation for being part of something bigger than themselves. Our instructors drive change and change lives on a daily basis.

Living and working in a very industry rich province, I am constantly being asked “Who should take this course”, my response is a simple…“Do you breathe?” Everyone is affected by their mental health and very few understand it. MHFA is essential to increase understanding, increase the promotion of accurate information and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

 

"We know that mental illness is not something that only happens to other people. Why then is mental health met with so much fear and misunderstanding?" – Tipper Gore

 

 

Brenda Mein

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth
  • MHFA Seniors

Facilitating Mental Health workshops to a diverse group of people within the educational, private, government and non-profit sectors is a very rewarding career.  I am an instructor for both the Mental Health First Aid for Youth and Basic workshops and in addition am a Master Trainer, training new Mental Health First Aid instructors. I enjoy providing a relaxed, safe and supportive learning environment while focusing on meeting the needs of workshop participants.

I have completed several years of post-secondary education, receiving several designations. I have completed my Masters in Intercultural and International Communication at Royal Roads University in Victoria. I have spent several years volunteering my time to various non-profit organizations including completing my certificates from both the City of Edmonton Police Victim Services Unit and the Salvation Army Suicide Prevention Program.  

I love working in education, and the area of mental health.  With extensive firsthand experience in the area of mental illness in both my personal and professional life, I have tremendous passion for the subject and issues surrounding mental health. I enjoy working with people in any capacity, providing recognition and respect for people's diversity and cultural differences, while remaining committed to fostering a respectful, fun learning environment.

It is my mandate to remain patient, tolerant and understanding as I work towards being a strong contributor in ending the stigma through educating and creating an awareness around mental health in Canada.  My continued drive in the area of mental health issues continues to motivate me to learn and connect with those whose lives have been affected in any capacity.  The message at the end of the day is there is hope and with the right combination of treatments – a person who suffers with a mental illness can be well and live a healthy, functional life.

 

 

Seia Roots

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth
  • MHFA Seniors
  • MHFA Veteran Community

Seia has been working as a Community Educator with the Canadian Mental Health Association, Vancouver-Fraser Branch since 2004. She develops curricula and offers workshops and presentations that improve mental health literacy, enhance communication skills and tap into innate empathy.

Bringing the topic of mental health into schools, corporations and governmental organizations provides Seia with opportunities to learn from amazing mentors and be part of award-winning programs. Seia also offers recovery-based workshops for people with lived experience of mental illness. Seia is a Certified Laughter Wellness Teacher and believes that having fun is important for learning! Seia’s areas of interest include trauma, creating support for first responders, and positive psychology.

Joining Mental Health First Aid Canada as an instructor in 2008, Seia began training new instructor candidates across Canada in 2011. Her teaching style is commonly described as Inspiring. Articulate. Respectful. Engaging and fun. Seia’s approach to instructor trainings is to provide clear guidance and practical examples. As a MHFA Master Trainer Seia helps identify areas for growth, while highlighting the strengths and skills of each instructor candidate.

New MHFA instructors are successful in Seia’s training by being fully dedicated to the 5-day training. Designating sufficient time to study the materials and policies after the instructor training is also essential.
Seia regularly uses Mental Health First Aid skills in her personal and professional life. and is inspired by how this course builds healthier communities across Canada.

 

 

Heather Bickle

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth

Heather started her career as an elementary teacher, graduating from McGill University in Montreal, helping to develop after school programs to foster positive mental health. Her passion for mental health grew and she made a switch from a traditional teacher role and worked for a local community mental health organization building education and training for local schools and businesses.  Currently Heather is a Wellness Coach in the Coaching & Support Centre at Durham College, providing mental health support for students as well as mental health education for students and staff. Heather is in the process of finishing a Masters of Science in Applied Positive Psychology.

Heather is delighted to be a Master Trainer for MHFA Canada and enjoys training, supporting and welcoming new MHFA Instructors to the family. Over the past few years, Heather has been excited to teach MHFA to nurses, police, teachers, youth workers, mechanics and everything in between. Teaching MHFA has enabled Heather to meet such a breadth of her community and the best compliment is having people start to talk about their own mental health experiences in their families and work places. To Heather, one of the best parts of teaching MHFA is helping to start the conversation of mental health and proving a tool kit for support.

Heather’s approach to being a Master Trainer is proving a safe and comfortable learning environment for new trainers to start their journey with MHFA. Heather’s goal is to make new trainers feel confident to take the training back to their own communities and at the same time challenge themselves as a trainer.  To Heather it is important to continue to grow and build your strengths.

MHFA is important to Heather because it is an evidence-based training that is approachable and needed in our communities. It provides participants a foundation for everyday use to help build awareness on mental health and increase our tool kit while supporting those experiencing a mental health problem. 

To Heather, someone can best succeed as a MHFA instructor by being open to learning from each course they teach and remembering this course is a first aid perspective into mental health. And of course, be yourself!

 

 

Jennifer Laffier

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth
  • MHFA Seniors

Dr. Jennifer Laffier has worked in the field of mental health for 23 years as a counsellor, therapist, and educational/mental health consultant. Over her career she has worked with seniors, adults and children and youth. She is currently a senior lecturer at A University teaching in the areas of mental health and human development.

She conducts research in the areas of teaching and learning, mental health, bullying, youth suicide, at-risk youth, healthy human development, self-injurious behaviours, interventions, emotional intelligence, and resiliency. Jennifer works with various sectors and agencies such as school boards, police agencies, fist responders, and senior health care.

She is passionate about bringing mental health first aid to as many people as possible in order to support what she believes is part of an effective national prevention strategy leading to an inclusive society.

 

 

Steve Walsh

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth
  • MHFA Seniors
  • MHFA Veteran Community

I have 20 years of experience working in the mental health field as a nurse with the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.  I educated students and staff on how to support people in crisis situations and facilitating teaching to people and families experiencing mental health challenges and seeking support in recovery.

 I have been able to witness the transformation of individuals in their understanding and ability to initiate support to individuals experiencing mental health challenges. The administrative team from the program are very supportive, highly motivating, insightful and very strength based. I have been part of the instructor team for 5 years and have done trainings in Basic, Adults who Interact with Youth and Veterans.  

My aim as a Master Trainer is to remain a facilitator that becomes integrated into the group that I am teaching. To help bring participants  through a journey of understanding  while delivering  the key concepts of the courses , be open to supporting individual and group needs at the same time adhering to the course content .

Statistics state that 1 in 3 will experience mental health problems in their life time and 1 in 5 in the next year emphasizes the need to understand how to support someone experiencing a mental health problem. Provides a set of tools and understanding to be used in all aspects of your life from friends and family to the workplace.

My goal is to create an environment that promotes differing learning styles. To demonstrate compassion, understanding and empathy for people experiencing mental health challenges.  Attempt to immerse yourself and style into the course content and make it come alive with your experiences and stories. Keep a constant view on the energy in the room, use your personality and energy to keep the audience engaged.  

 

 

Melanie McGregor

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth

 

I love stories. So here’s mine:

I began my career as a high school English teacher and now have over 15 years' experience in the not-for-profit field as an educator, communicator, and advancement specialist. I have been a Mental Health First Aid Instructor since 2013 and a Mental Health First Aid Adults Who Interact With Youth Instructor since 2014. When I first took these courses, I wanted to ask, “Where have you been all my life??” The skills I learned were so practical and vital that I wished I’d had them years before. And teaching Mental Health First Aid gives me the chance to make the skills and knowledge available to everyone who needs them…and I believe we all need them.

But that’s not the whole story. I have my own recovery journey that I share at each and every course. See, it’s not “us” (the helpers) and “them” (the people who need help)…it’s us and us. It’s all of us. We all have mental health and will need support from time to time, so let’s learn how to be part of that together. Mental Health First Aid can absolutely make a difference for each and every one of our co-workers, neighbours, friends, and family.

I’m a proud mom who enjoys reading, baking, and playing tennis. I also have a love for reality TV...but that's a whole other story.

What will your story be? I hope it will start with a passion to connect with people to help them help others and build supportive systems, workplaces, and communities. And I will be part of that story by supporting and encouraging you with patience, understanding, positivity and fun. Sounds like a winning plot to me.

 

Paula Corcoran-Jacobs

  • MHFA Basic
  • MHFA Adults who Interact with Youth

I am a mother of two teen sons.

I am a person who lives a life of Recovery with a mental illness.

I am passionate about sharing my experiences to motivate others as I aim to achieve my personal mission of “building bridges and breaking down barriers”.

I bring my personal motivation and drive to promote my personal belief in recovery, wellness, and peer support.

Throughout my career, I have focused on the importance of contact-based learning - learning directly from individuals who have personal experience in the topic. Having published my recovery story, I see daily the importance of speaking publically on my own lived experiences of living with a mental illness.

After completing my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Memorial University, I became CHANNAL’s first Provincial Peer Support Coordinator in September 2010, moving into the role of Executive Director in 2013.

My experience in the community sector comes from years of volunteerism, having volunteered with such organizations as the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPAN), Bridges to Hope Food Aid Centre, and CHANNAL as the Spokesperson for their anti-stigma campaign, ‘Let’s Talk About It’. I currently sit on a variety of local, provincial and national committees representing the voice of individuals living with mental health issues. Most notable, I sit as appointed member of two Provincial Advisory Councils - Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities; Mental Health and Addictions.

Some of my career highlights include the co-creation and co-facilitation of two provincial training programs - "Today and Tomorrow, Too - a peer support training program” and "The Recovery Approach: First Steps in Transforming Mental Health and Addictions Practice in NL". My most recent career growth has been the attainment of Master Trainer status for the delivery of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) – Basic and Youth for Mental Health First Aid Canada! Delivering MHFA alongside my husband as we both utilize our experiences with mental illness to deliver a truly unique understanding of the material has quickly become my passion! :)

 

MHFA Filler Image