MHA Alumni Heather Bretschneider (Class of 2020) shares her experience at MHA and how it helped achieve her career goal.
Director, Workplace Mental Health at BC Provincial Government (Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions)
Heather Bretschneider has always been focused on health and well-being.
Having worked as a nutritional consultant and personal trainer, she discovered a career in public health allowed her to take her passion for improving people’s lives and apply it on a broader scale.
As a director with B.C.’s Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, Bretschneider helps shape programs and policies to improve the psychological health and safety of workers and leaders across diverse sectors throughout the province.
She relishes the challenge that comes with a position that didn’t exist before she took it on.
Blazing her own trail comes with a unique set of challenges, but also opportunities to explore uncharted territory.
“I like to be able to look for solutions to problems that haven’t yet been addressed,” she says, adding that her job with the ministry allows her to identify under-served sectors and deliver tailor-made responses to meet their needs.
Prior to her current position, Bretschneider worked with the ministry to craft messaging to challenge the stigma faced by people who use drugs. She has also worked to address issues related to food labelling and nutrition.
She says working towards her Master of Health Administration caught the eye of decision-makers, highlighting her dedication to developing her skill-set. Once she stepped into her new role, the MHA gave her the tools to focus on the big picture.
“I think the program set me up to ask the right questions or ask hard questions that I might not have thought of before and thinking through things from a lot of different angles,” she says.
Interest in workplace health and safety has grown dramatically in recent years, she says, and the MHA put her in the perfect position to respond to the growth in demand.
“You’ve got to jump on those opportunities when the iron is hot in public health,” she says. “It was a pretty hard sell 15 years ago so when these opportunities come, you really have to seize them.”