SAULT STE. MARIE -- A one-day virtual session Tuesday was aimed at showcasing partnerships that have developed -- and the ones that are developing -- in the battle to address mental health and addiction issues in central Algoma.

More than 130 people took part from dozens of agencies in the Algoma region. In total, 14 different presentations were given on services that are being offered to battle mental health and addiction issues.

The one-day session was supposed to take place in March, however the pandemic pushed it back six months.

“Just trying to help our staff and our community understand that there are a lot of new initiatives, new programs and services over the last 18 months that have started to make a difference to the lives of our community members who live with mental health and addiction issues,” said Annette Katajamaki, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association Sault Ste. Marie.

Katajamaki said the inspirations for the event was sparked after watching the W5 ‘Steel Town Down’ documentary aired in early 2018. She realized there was a need for agencies to start working closely together and do a better job highlighting the work and services being offered.

“It definitely put pressure on all of us to do a better job," she said. "And that’s not to say we weren’t doing a great job with the limited funding and the limited human resources that we have, but it really did help us better understand and work better together. It highlighted the fact that we could work better together and get better outcomes for our communities together (rather) than separately.”

Katajamaki said that working together is where the agencies will make the big difference in the region.