Longtime mental health advocate leaving
A LONGTIME supporter of mental health support and education will be leaving town soon.
Eileen Callanan, who has been part of the BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) branch here and the National Alliance on Mental Illness for many years, is moving to Nanaimo with her husband Jim to be closer to family.
“I love Terrace. The discussion was what do we do: stay here or go where my children and grandchildren and siblings are. They’re all down south and cousins and my nursing colleagues,” said Callanan.
“I’m going to miss Terrace. Part of me is in grief mode.”
She’s lived here for 43 years and raised her children here; now they live down south in Victoria and Vancouver.
“It’s with sadness and excitement, it’s a change,” she said about moving.
She spent several years teaching the Family to Family sessions along with two others, who will take over it now.
She became involved in the schizophrenia society after her son became very ill with schizoaffective disorder.
She attended local support group meetings, and eventually joined the BCSS board of directors. As a provincial director, she helped bring about amendments to the Mental Health Act that made it easier for B.C. families to obtain treatment for their ill relatives.
More recently, she wrote to the Mental Health Commission of Canada with recommendations for a national mental health strategy.
She was involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which sent a trainer up here to teach how to present Family to Family to others, she took the training and has been teaching it ever since.
She also taught it in Smithers and Prince Rupert.
“I love helping families and sharing my story and seeing that it helps families,” said Callanan.
“Just to give families an opening to talk about their situation and education, that’s my biggie.”
Along the way, Jim has been totally supportive and when she’d do training sessions in her house, he would do the meals or on weekends, pick up food and bring it, she said.
He also travelled with her sometimes and would participate in the classes, taking it seven times, she added.
She has a nursing degree and worked in community health for a few years and in doctors’ clinics.
Nursing changed over the years in terms of home visits, which Callanan used to do a lot, but then that decreased when home care became available.
For a while after they move, she intends to lay low, enjoy the area and explore Vancouver Island before deciding if she’ll be part of the society there, which has already emailed her.
Eileen and Jim aren’t leaving right away as they’re looking to sell their home here first.