Lakeside Leader reporter Pearl Lorentzen has been recognized for her work in the field of mental health. She is the recipient of the Alberta Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Communication Award for 2021.
“I found out in January,” says Lorentzen.
So why are we just learning about it now?
“They did a video,” she says. “It just came out.”
The video serves as an official announcement, and is also an interview with Lorentzen, in which she talks about her work as a community mental health animator in Slave Lake.
“I was nominated for what I’m involved in,” she says. “It’s a combination of my work here (as a news reporter) and my animator work.”
Lorentzen says she became aware of the community animator role through her work as a reporter. She looked into it, went through the training and started officially in early 2021. Since then she’s helped organize a volunteering and information event, talked to lots of people about mental health, organized a writers group and other such activities.
“Community engagement is a huge part,” she says. “Helping people connect with their passions.”
One aspect of this engagement is a program called C.A.R.E. (Come together, Acknowledge, Reflect and Explore). It involves a small group of people getting together once a week or once every two weeks. Participants talk about how they are doing and listen to how others are doing. Lorentzen says there’s one of these happening now, and it’s full, but three more are planned for January.
On the reporting side of things, Lorentzen has written quite a lot of stories – both news pieces and opinion columns on the general topic of mental health. She plans to keep doing that, as well.
Apparently the Rural Mental Health Network has been paying attention, because it nominated Lorentzen for the award.