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The Family Council strengthens and supports families affected by addiction and mental health issues.

Board of directors

Who we are

The Family Council: Empowerment for Families in Addictions and Mental Health is a not-for-profit corporation that acts on behalf of the families at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

The Family Council is a member-run organization guided by Board of Directors elected by the Family Council general membership. The family Council has one full-time Coordinator and one full-time Administrative Assistant.

The Family Council offers information, peer support and systemic advocacy to family members. Families come in many shapes and sizes. "Family" is defined as anyone in a close relationship with someone who has a mental health and/or a substance use problem. This can be a friend, a relative, a spouse or a family member.

Started in 2001 and incorporated in 2003, the Family Council was created in response to the Empowerment Project and began at CAMH in 1999. This project aimed to find a way to ensure the voices and concerns of clients and family members were represented at the hospital through the participation of families and clients in CAMH governance, committees, work groups and other appropriate groups.

What we do

The family Council is responsible for:

  • Facilitating the participation of families on the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) advisory committees, task forces and other appropriate groups.
  • Representing the interests of families in reviewing policies, program development and strategic planning at CAMH
  • Reaching out to families, being a place of contact and information for families at CAMH

What We Support

  • Advocating for appropriate, adequate and accessible programs and services for families at CAMH
  • Sponsoring, encouraging and working towards the creation of expanded supports and services for families
  • Overseeing and providing volunteer, peer support at the Family Resource Centre at the College Street site

Education and Information Sharing

  • Developing and supporting information and learning opportunities for families.
  • Ensuring information is available to families about educational events, seminars and current issues
  • Encouraging and soliciting input from families on their concerns and/or needs and communicating this information to CAMH

Advocacy

  • Reviewing strengths and barriers with respect to family involvement at CAMH
  • Providing systemic advocacy on behalf of families within CAMH when necessary and appropriate.
  • Ensuring that the voices of families are heard throughout the broader mental health and addiction field in Ontario

 

Our Board of Directors


Mercedes Waithe
President

Mercedes has been employed as a Clothing retailer (owned operated 3 stores and managed a 4th), and a Law Clerk and Paralegal at Criminal Law. For the past several years she has filled the role of Executive Assistant to the Director in a number of federal government and corporate agencies. Mercedes’ interest in joining the board of The Family Council is a result of her personal experience as a mom to a young man who has schizophrenia. She thankfully relates that with a lot of hard work and input from close family members and friends, along with his determination to succeed in managing his illness, her son has been doing wonderfully for more than a decade now. Mercedes feels she has some positive experiences to share with families in the mental health community about how her family has coped with this illness, and as a Director of The Family Council, is enthusiastic about representing these same families as an advocate within the mental health, clinical network, and in the community.


Ada Ho Ying Chan
Vice-president

Ada is a family lawyer in Toronto serving primarily low income individuals, including many who struggle with mental health and addiction issues. Ada brings a unique perspective on how family support contributes to a more sustainable recovery.

Ada has a longstanding interest in promoting social justice, both locally and globally. After graduating from McGill University, she spent six months in Mumbai, India, supporting income generation projects for local women. During law school, she completed an internship with the Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation, supporting the legal rights of those living with HIV/AIDS in that region.


Ron Herry
Treasurer

Ron Herry is a Manager with KPMG’s Transaction & Restructuring Practice, where he is responsible for performing valuation of private business ventures and valuation of goodwill and intangible assets. He began his career with KPMG in their Financial Institution Audit Practice, where he achieved his Chartered Accountant designation. He is also a charterholder of the Chartered Financial Analyst Designation.

Ron earned his Bachelor of Commerce (with Honours) from Ryerson University. Ron has held various leadership positions in the community. While at Ryerson University, he was a co-founder and president of a student group organization with the mandate of advocating volunteer opportunities to the Ryerson community. He is presently involved as a mentor in Junior Achievement of Canada’s Company Program.


Cara Heitmann
Secretary

After experiencing the mental health system alongsided a family member, Cara decided to become a Social Worker in order to put her experiences to use. She began by volunteering at CAMH's Teleophone support Line and shortly after was accepted into York University's social Work program and attained her BSW. While working on her undergraduate degree Cara also volnteerred in the Family Services department of CAMH as a Group Facilitator. She then moved on to support indivicuals with mental health and subtance use struggles at Regenerationo House, during which time she worked on getting her Master's degree in Social Work on full sholarship at York Universitey. Cara is currently working as a Comunity Mental Health Counsellor at Woodgreen Community Services and continues to bring passion and compassion to her work with people with mental health and substance use struggles. Cara's dog is a volunteer at CAMH too.


Anne Colby

Anne was born in Timmins, Ontario. She relocated to Toronto to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Toronto. Anne is married and has three children and four grandchildren.

Anne has worked as a Public Health Nurse and a Program Nurse Manager at the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health (previously Mental Health Centre, Penetanguishene). Anne joined the Family Council in 2007. She reports that membership on the Board has kept her in touch with current thinking about mental illness and has given her the opportunity to give back to the CAMH community for the excellent care which her son has received.


Gabriela Mihajlovic

Graduate of Ziza Lazarevic Serbia in Economics and Finance. Experienced in personal banking and financial planning.



Rishi Bhadrish

Rishi is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier University. He holds an MBA and a CMA designation. Rishi has worked in various industries, such as, information technology, automotive, telecommunications, and consulting.


Anita Gaide

Anita Gaide has been a professional organist for 45 years. She has given concerts in Canada, the US, Europe and Latvia. Her musical education includes the ARCT (Gold medal, Royal Conservatory of Music), ARCCO, and the Diplome de Virtuosité from the Schola Cantorum in Paris. Among her six academic degrees are an MA in Latin, University of Toronto and Doctor of Theology from Victoria University, U of T. She has worked for the Toronto District School Board as a teacher, counselor and ESL assessor since 1981. Anita is minister of the East Toronto Latvian Lutheran Church. She is the co-chair of the Deer Park Community Citizenship Committee and is presently the chair of the Latvian National Opera Fund in Canada.


Bosville Salmon

With over 25-years experience in senior Human Resource management, bolstered by his education in communications, Bosville Salmon brings many valuable assets that make him a suitable "fit" to serve as a member of the Family Council Board.

Most notable is his personal and processional involvement over the past 2-years dealing with his son's mental illness and addressing the mental health stigma of fear and reprisals in the workplace. For him it's not just personal; the public's perception of mental illness and the subsequent behavioural response to the mentally ill must change.

His first foray into the Community involvement field came with his work with former MP Alvin Curling, to address funding and management issues of Caribana Festival and Board of the Caribbean Cultural Committee ( CCC).

Bosville Salmon holds a BA Degree in Mass Media Telecommunications from the University of Akron, Ohio, and lives in Caledon ON with his wife and their two sons.