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HOMETOWN HEROES: Supporting women and mental health in Quesnel
Quesnel Cariboo Observer - 11/28/2022
Catherine Forbes is passionate about supporting women with mental health issues after finding herself in need of help years ago.
Forbes has worked at the Quesnel Women's Resource Centre for 15 years, where she continues to provide counselling, advocacy and support for individuals of all genders.
Previously she had spent the same amount of years at the Amata Transition House, a 24-hour support and temporary shelter for women and children who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing abuse.
"I struggled with anxiety and depression myself, and I found myself seeking out resources," Forbes recalled, adding she had a job at a bank in downtown Quesnel. "I thought it was the job, but it was my relationship. So there were lots of pieces that I needed to break down and learn about and figure out where some of this anxiety was coming from."
Forbes started working with therapists at mental health and took up the opportunity to receive training at Douglas College to work at the Transition House.
"I just got really passionate about the work, and passionate about women with mental health issues in particular because I was a woman with mental health issues," she said.
In September this year, Forbes walked from the Women's Memorial Monument to the Women's Resource Centre in solidarity with countless others to remember those who have lost their lives to gender-based violence and call for an end.
"The women that are on the monument list is not exhaustive," Forbes said, adding they hope to someday move the monument to a quieter location away from the nearby train tracks. "We are continually thinking about who needs to be on that monument."
This year, the Women's Resource Centre has seen more than 2,000 women seeking safety, support and information.
Forbes noted the emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic that left many feeling isolated, leading to a hotbed for marriage breakdowns.
"Many felt the need to talk to someone as they said they were going to lose it with their partner and kids and had never felt like this before," Forbes said, noting mood changes, anxiety and depression were being experienced at unprecedented levels. "We're still dealing with some of that fallout."
Another number that has increased is the number of young people, including children and teens, seeking resources in Quesnel that has lost a number of agencies working with that age group, and where the wait to see a counselor or psychiatrist is over a year.
In the last few years, Forbes said they have started seeing men.
"I think that a common thought about Women's Resource Centres is that we're a bunch of iron-fisted feminists," she said. "Certainly, that's a part of who we are, but the other part is about hoping that families can stay together and get well together and have something that is healthy."
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