Make a difference: Help the Catalyst evolve

Since the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) began issuing our monthly Catalyst newsletter in 2012, our subscriber list has grown to nearly 100,000. This milestone offers us a perfect opportunity to reflect on its success and ensure that the content, perspective, and style continues to serve our readers’ wants and needs.

Over the last year, the stories garnering the most interest were on the Mindset Media Guide, social enterprises, and the MHCC’s e-mental health implementation toolkit.

“It’s really not that surprising,” said Stephanie Machel, the MHCC’s director of public affairs. “We brought together the Hallway Group [our special advisory group of people with lived experience of mental illness] to ask what they liked about the Catalyst and what they felt could be improved. The group clearly preferred how-tos and articles with real-world applications. They had a definite appetite for reading about our programs and projects and for better understanding their impact across the country.”

Samuel Breau, the MHCC’s manager of external public affairs, has since taken up the challenge of surveying Catalyst readers to find out where we can do better. “We want to know if they favour first-person narratives or broader features on mental health and wellness,” he explained. “We want to make sure we don’t presume what our readers prefer, and that our newsletter is continuing to grow with the organization and keeping pace with Canada’s changing mental health landscape.”

Together with the MHCC’s organizational performance team, Breau developed a survey that will give us a sense of where Catalyst stories are hitting the mark and where they may be falling short. “While it’s not always easy to hear a reader’s critique, honestly assessing what’s no longer working is the only way to improve.”

With a rapidly growing subscriber base we want to be sure the Catalyst is providing timely, relevant, and helpful information. In making a direct appeal for a spirited response to the survey, Breau insisted that, “We really want hear from you, our readers. Tell us what you like, what you’d like to see more of, and what just doesn’t work.” He then rhymed off a few areas where he thinks the Catalyst could be beefed up, including stakeholder profiles and features on mental health advocates. “Yes, our newsletter is meant to tell readers how and where to access our tools, but it’s also about lifting up our partners. As a New Brunswicker, I know first-hand that a rising tide lifts all boats!”

Machel agreed, noting, “We can see over the last year that our articles on accommodating aspiring workers were opened at a high rate. “The same is true for articles about free tools and resources. These results show a clear desire for what is practical. But the fact is you can’t please everyone. So we also need to understand what we aren’t writing about, what gaps we’re missing, and whether there’s a lens we aren’t looking through. Whatever these are, we are committed to making sure the information we provide is helping to move the needle on mental health and wellness in Canada.”

Please help the MHCC do that by taking our short survey. We’ll be sharing the results in a future Catalyst article and, more importantly, implementing all the changes, big or small, that will ensure our information is useful to you — our trusted readers.