One Northerner has joined the ranks of the most influential people guiding discussion around mental health in the country.
Hiedi Yardley, a “home-grown Northerner” and employee at Northstar Psychological Services in Yellowknife, is being recognized by the Canadian Mental Health Association for this work. Yardley is one of 150 Canadians who were chosen from 3,700 applicants.
Applicants were chosen by a national committee of 40 Canadians.
Yardley, a University of Calgary graduate and registered psychologist, was nominated by the FOXY/SMASH organization based on her work to refocus the group as a trauma-informed organization. FOXY and SMASH provide sexual, health and healthy relationship education to youth across the North.
“Hiedi came in and gave us a lot of the language we use in our programs,” said FOXY executive director, Candice Lys.
Yardley was also instrumental in helping organization leaders recognize that everyone who deals with mental trauma is in a different place. She works to break mental-health stigmas and develops better ways for the public to engage with people who deal with mental trauma.
“We don't treat this like something is wrong with people,” said Yardley. “There have been a lot of breakthroughs that have impacted our field in how the brain works.”
Yardley acknowledges history has been a main factor in why Northerners experience higher amounts of traumatic experiences.
Kayley MacKay, a project co-ordinator with FOXY, explained why she felt Yardley was deserving of the recognition.
“I come from a pretty intense trauma background myself,” she said. “(Hiedi) basically brought a practical way of doing things ... she encouraged us all about the functionality and healing in trauma.”
Yardley said moving forward, she wants to see this type of education become more common.
“It saddens me,” said Yardley. “We need to start working for people with a sense of kindness … and people genuinely don't know that.”
Yardley is one of many clinicians responsible for major breakthroughs in the medical field. However, she admits she has no idea why they chose her.
“I am fairly passionate,” she said. “I think it's important to teach and for people to become more aware that this (the trauma) is beatable.”