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Kelowna charity's new award honours locals who support mental health workers

Kelowna Capital News - 12/6/2023

A Kelowna charity is giving thanks to community members who support mental health workers, by creating a new annual award.

Third Space Charity says there is growing recognition in the mental health field that providers need to be taken care of themselves in order to do their own vital work. The new "Caring for the Carers" award recognizes a local person or organization that has provided that care.

Announced for the first time at Third Space Charity's benefit concert last month, the inaugural award was presented to Melissa Berry Appleton. Appleton is a Buddhist chaplain, who specializes in meditation and movement. She is also a masters of clinical counselling candidate and has worked with Third Space Charity's counselling interns for years.

"Melissa is a practitioner who lives and breathes the work of supporting frontline workers. She teaches a model that allows our team to make space for other's suffering without making it their own. Her impact is powerful, and we are grateful to have her caring for our interns," Third Space Charity Executive Director Megan Woodruff said in a news release.

Woodruff said the need to integrate supports for mental health providers became especially evident to them when one of their student counselling interns, Scott Stephen, took his own life.

"They are this community's clinical counsellors of tomorrow, and we need to arm them with the tools and skills they need to stay well and sustain healthy careers," Woodruff said.

The new "Caring for the Carers" award comes with an annual $500 bursary provided by Stephen's mother, Dianne Stephen.

Berry Appleton said she plans to use that money to support LGBTQ+ and IBPOC (Indigenous, Black and other people of color) front-line workers.