Happy 10th Birthday, Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia (ADABC)!

ADABC  became a reality in 1999 due to a small group of hard working tenacious individuals.  Drs. Peter McLean and Maureen Whittal, from the UBC Anxiety Disorders Unit formed the Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia as it was then called. At that time people with anxiety and their family members were experiencing difficulty accessing information as well as treatment resources. It was decided that the needs of people troubled by anxiety symptoms would be better served if awareness of anxiety increased in the larger population.  These two psychologists recruited several people with broad expertise and an interest in anxiety to form ADABC (now called Anxiety Canada).

ADABC, in its initial year as a nascent organization, was consumed with operating procedures:  establishing a board of directors, filing paperwork to be registered under the Society Act, setting up a membership database, drafting by-laws for the association, setting up a mailing procedure for an official address, designing letterhead, designing a brochure, designing a website, creating and sending a newsletter, opening a bank account, applying for a nonprofit status with the appropriate government authorities, formalizing a telephone service and responding to calls from the public, and a myriad of other tasks that help support the foundation of any organization.

In addition to these chores, our PR arm was fully operational and contacted most media outlets including several interviews on the Rafe Maier radio show.  The board also met throughout the year, had an overwhelmingly positive public information night held at Vancouver’s John Oliver Secondary School in April 2000, and held its first Annual General Membership meeting in June 2000. 

Our mandate, as set by the founding participants, is three fold:
1.     To promote awareness of anxiety disorders
2.     To improve access to information about anxiety disorders, and
3.     To improve access to treatment for anxiety disorders.

For the next several years, this volunteer group wrote grants to establish an operating budget, promoted the association on TV, radio, in print, newsletters, and a series of Public Information Nights. We also lobbied government, specifically the BC Minister of State for Mental Health, encouraging recognition of this prevalent and often disabling disorder.  We met with policy makers, Foundation Directors, politicians, leaders of companies, Rotary groups, community groups etc., all in an effort to raise the profile of anxiety disorders. We were an integral partner with Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (now called the Mental Health Partners).

Over the next several years, we increased our products to include several informational brochures targeting specific audiences. We gave many community talks, and were recognized as a hard working volunteer organization by the BC government in the form of an official, small budget.

With a bit of money, we were able to develop an extraordinary website <anxietycanada.com> complete with video clips of experts discussing child, adolescent and adult anxiety difficulties. We have two professionally produced DVDs: Separation Anxiety and Panic Disorder. We are recognized across BC and Canada for our service to our community. At the same time Anxiety Canada was forming, a national anxiety group across Canada, Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, was forming. Anxiety Canada had representation from the beginning with the national group.

During the past ten years, many volunteers from different backgrounds and varying experience have given significant time and effort to this very worthy organization. It is due to this small group of hard working people that Anxiety Canada is as successful as it is. We are now looking to expand services to the BC community, always with an eye to evidence-supported science. We invite anyone to contact us with their ideas for future priorities or areas of growth.