Mike Royal, left, and Dana Sarauer, are facilitating Become the Change, a men’s program offered by Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilcotin Branch. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

CMHA program assists men wanting to change themselves, their relationships

The next session begins on Thursday, June 4

A program for men wanting to seek positive changes within themselves and their relationships has been gaining momentum in Williams Lake.

“If they are struggling with aggression or anger or noticing that maybe they are specifically dealing with that towards their partner or anything like that, this program is there to help them,” said Dana Sarauer, facilitator of educational programs with community-based victim services at Canadian Mental Health Association who developed the program. “It’s about planting those seeds so they can start making those positive changes in their lives.”

Through the ‘well-rounded’ program the men are introduced to many other resources in Williams Lake and other community professionals who can help as well.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place and people quarantined in their homes and spending a lot of time with partners or family members some people have noticed they are having more arguments and there is more tension, she added.

“This is definitely a program that could benefit them.”

The next program will start on Thursday, June 4 with a maximum of 20 participants.

It will run for eight weeks, meeting once a week for two hours on Thursday afternoons.

Normally it would be held at CMHA but this one will be held online through Zoom or a similar platform.

Blake Vankoughnett attended the session held in February to March 2020.

“I took the class to learn from others how they experience things, and so I can hopefully teach someone,” he said. “I just want to be helped but more importantly to help others”

A participant from the November 2019 to December 2019 program who wanted to remain anonymous said it brought him better awareness of other people.

“I used to think that people knew what I was thinking,” he said. “Now I’m more focused, have better awareness, and more patience. I want other people to know that there are always options if you need help.”

Co-facilitator Mike Royal said the program it gives the participants tools they can use and it helps them realize they are not alone.

“I find it really helpful for most participants to work in a group setting like that,” Royal said. “I love it.”

Read more: Mental Health Week, May 4-10, urges Canadians to #getreal

Royal has contracted with CMHA and worked for the organization off and on the last 20 years. He worked with addiction services, with the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District.

“The group provides them with a safe place to say what they are thinking. They know it’s not going to go anywhere else and I think that is really important.”

It’s voluntary to sign up for Become the Change group and Royal said he has works with mandatory referrals in other programs.

“I know with my background it’s something that has been needed in the community for many years,” Royal added. “It is non-mandatory, although it is also good for a counsellor to suggest someone attend.

Modules in the program vary from differentiating between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship, domestic violence to addictions and grief.

There are videos, group discussions and Royal even does skits sometimes, Sarauer said adding they have a wide variety of ways to offer information.

Anyone wanting to register or learn more is asked to call Sarauer at 250-398-8220 ext. 2058.

Read more: Crisis line volunteers needed at CMHA


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