Conservation Mental Health

A Pan-Canadian Conversation
on Conservation Mental Health

People working in conservation and protected areas can directly feel the weight of biodiversity and habitat loss and the impacts of climate change. Parks professionals also work to reconnect people in nature in a complex environment where access and impact must be thoughtfully integrated. Field members serve the public and nature directly, often as first responders in emergencies and disasters. Organizational and management members are accountable for heavy, lasting decisions. All these factors together make it critical for everyone in the parks community to be mindful of our individual and collective mental wellness. This begins with listening to ourselves and each other, and accessing the employee support services offered by each of our agencies, our communities, and our health care system.

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Park Agency Employee Support Services

Every member agency of the Canadian Parks Council offers their employees supports for mental health crisis, stress, and other life challenges. These programs are all linked below and CPCIL encourages all members of the parks community to participate in counselling services at any stage of a stressful situation:

Other Mental Health Services

One in every five men is living in pain, often suffering in silence and isolation, and suffocating under the stress of work and family life. If we want to maintain healthy families and healthy communities, we need to ease this pain.

Mental health is not just an individual problem. It’s a shared responsibility between the individual, the family, the employer, and society as a whole. The BroMatters Project would see men empowered to make a change for the better in the management and care of their mental health needs. “It’s time to break the silence, turn on the lights and end the needless suffering by asking men with real life experience what tools and resources work for them. Men addressing the mental health needs of men, their way, with their voice, as one united brotherhood.”

BroMatters resources

“Crisis Services Canada (CSC) is a national network of existing distress, crisis and suicide prevention line services. We are committed to supporting any person living in Canada who is affected by suicide, in the most caring and least intrusive manner possible.”

Crisis Services Canada

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) was launched in 1985 by a group who saw the need to provide information and resources to communities to reduce the suicide rate and minimize the harmful consequences of suicidal behaviour. Like many others, CASP envisions a world in which people enjoy an optimal quality of life, are long-living, socially responsible, and optimistic about the future.

“CASP’s ultimate purpose is to reduce the suicide rate and minimize the harmful consequences of suicidal behaviour. We continue to be a touchstone for everyday Canadians and members of the media who want resources, guidance and education.”

Immediate Help:

Crisis Services Canada

A directory of BIPOC therapists who have agreed to the Healing in Colour  Statement of Values.

“For BIPOC, finding a therapist who understands our lived experiences can feel next to impossible. Healing in Colour strives to make that search easier.

We offer a directory of BIPOC therapists who are committed to supporting BIPOC in all our intersections. By helping to connect our community in this way, we aim to revitalize a legacy of healing, liberation work and resiliency practices that have been lost/taken.”

Healing in Colour Directory

“The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) leads the development and dissemination of innovative programs and tools to support the mental health and wellness of Canadians. Through its unique mandate from the Government of Canada, the MHCC supports federal, provincial, and territorial governments as well as organizations in the implementation of sound public policy.”

The mental Health Commission of Canada offers resources, tools, and training.

MHCC website

“Peer support is emotional and practical support between two people who share a common experience, such as a mental health challenge or illness. A Peer Supporter has lived through that similar experience, and is trained to support others.

Peer Support Canada connects peer supporters and organizations, helping share information and building capacity for peer support.

Peer Support Canada also offers certification for Peer Supporters, Family Peer Supporters, and for Peer Support Mentors. Peer Support Certification is a confirmation of one’s knowledge, skills, and experience as a peer supporter. Certification verifies one’s alignment with the nationally endorsed Standard of Practice, and is recognized across Canada.

The Standards of Practice for mental health peer supporters were developed in consultation with peer supporters from across the country and endorsed by peer leaders representing interests nationwide. The national Standards of Practice consist of the knowledge, competencies, experience, and code of conduct requirements to effectively provide peer support services with due care and skill in a variety of settings.”

Link to Resources

“Connecting Communities and Service Providers

Shkaabe Makwa plays a key role in connecting with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and service providers across the province with a focus on:

  • Building relationships and collaborative partnerships;
  • Providing training to support workforce development;
  • Advancing culturally relevant systems initiatives; and
  • Improving practice through research and knowledge exchange.

Shkaabe Makwa collaborates with many programs across CAMH to develop and deliver training, implement system initiatives, coordinate knowledge exchange events and webinars, support Virtual Care services, resource for research projects and lead Indigenous engagement for CAMH programs and initiatives.”

Shkaabe Makwa


“Our Model of Care is Rooted in Culture

The closest word in the Ojibwe language for health is “minobimaudiziwin” which means “living the good life.” Each quadrant in our model of care is rooted in Indigenous wisdom and supports clients in living their good life.

Wabano’s model of care takes a deeper look at the Medicine Wheel teachings and is based on the work of Dr. Martin Brokenleg. Wabano’s model of care has four components:

  1. Belonging
  2. Mastery
  3. Interdependence
  4. Generosity”

Wabano Centre Model of Care

“Wellness Together Canada offers resources for all kinds of wellness needs, including mental health and substance use support. It was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is funded by the Government of Canada. 

On Wellness Together you can:

  • Learn about mental health and substance use on the wellness category pages
  • Practice skills that help you improve your wellness by trying out the tools on the resource selector
  • Connect with other people who have been through something similar.
  • Talk to a trained counsellor, by caling or texting the numbers here
  • Track your progress by completing regular wellness self-assessments”

Wellness Together Canada

"As people trying to make the world a better place, sometimes we need to eddy out in order to rejuvenate, regain some perspective, and then launch our boats back into the water."
Stephen Legault
Author, "Taking a Break from Saving the World"
"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."
Maya Angelou

Feather Challenge Coin

A way to start discussions among colleagues was offered through the use of CPCIL Feather Challenge Coins. When presented to another colleague, these tokens offer a silent and simple way to signal our state of well-being.


When the coin is presented “face up” with the colour and filled-in feather, it indicates that we are in a positive state of well-being. Things are going well and our energy is in balance. We are here to listen.


When the coin is flipped “face down” with the colour hidden and the empty feather showing, we are indicating that we feel empty and in need of reassurance and support. We need someone to listen to us.

CPCIL Feather Challenge Coins are only about listening with empathy. You may simply sit in silence or have a friendly conversation that releases tension. These conversations are not a replacement for seeking assistance from employee and family assistance programs, and the coins might help someone gather the courage to ask for help.

We are all stronger when we are together. We are never alone. 

To order custom coins for your team or organization, contact 

Community of Practice Champions
Conservation Mental Health

Each community of practice is led by two CPCIL Park Leaders and any other members of the community who want to actively contribute to keeping the conversation going. 

Melanie Percy

Kathleen Godfrey

Mary Lou Doyle

Mkhabela Masuku

Ryan Gardner

Elyse Curley

Jeff Brown

Chelsey Dawes

Melanie Dompierre 

Eden Thurston

Isabelle Croteau


Conservation Mental Health Discussion Forum

Join the Conversation

Submit Your Canadian Parks Collective Profile

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Please provide as much information as you can so that others can search your profile and build connections across the Canadian Parks Collective.