Spring is and always has been the season of hope. This spring, as if a reminder was needed, this season of hope means more than ever. There is light at the end of this pandemic-induced tunnel; it’s visible to most already and soon it will be upon us
Most of us, that is.
Nearly 40 percent of Canadians say that their mental health has deteriorated over the past year. The unprecedented stresses of Covid-19 have left many of our friends, family, and neighbours in the dark with little to no hope.
It seems like finding the light at the end of this tunnel will need to be a group effort for many as our society starts to rebuild normalcy.
“Though it sometimes seems like ‘mental health awareness’ is everywhere we go and everyone knows about these struggles, it is not as known about as one would think,” explains local mental health and addiction counsellor, Shylo Steininger. “Many people still aren’t understanding what is going on around them or within them.”
This is where the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) Mental Health Week, May 3-9, 2021, comes in.
Every year since 1951, CMHA has hosted Mental Health Week in the first full week in May, making 2021 the 70th year. The core objective is to promote mental health because mental health is something that should be promoted and protected, not just something that can be lost.
Something of a Canadian tradition, Mental Health Week sees communities, schools and workplaces rallying to celebrate, protect and promote mental health. This kind of focussed attention might well be a lifeline for many this year who are experiencing depression, anxiety, and stress made worse by increased isolation and fear.
“Awareness campaigns can be extremely powerful in combating this and when it comes to mental health, I believe raising awareness is necessary,” says Valéry Brosseau, a noted mental health advocate, writer, and TED Talk alumnus based in York Region. “Dedicating a week to mental health awareness brings this topic to the forefront of people’s minds and forces them to consider how it impacts their own lives. It sparks a conversation and helps people find the words to discuss something that is so stigmatized and often uncomfortable.”
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Week is understanding our emotions. Recognizing, labeling and accepting our feelings are all part of protecting and promoting good mental health for everyone. Naming, expressing and dealing with emotions—even when they’re uncomfortable—can sometimes help alleviate symptoms almost immediately.
“When it comes to mental health and mental illness, we need to learn to be comfortable with openness,” continues Brosseau. Awareness campaigns help equip people with the language to become safe spaces for mental illness, which in turn gives people permission to seek help. It reminds them they are worthy of that help.”
This year’s campaign is primarily online from May 3-9, 2021 .
Visit www.mentalhealthweek.ca for info, helpful articles and free downloadable communications tools to help you celebrate CMHA Mental Health Week. Download and share the free School Toolkit with activities and info to help teachers, students and children learn about and promote good mental health and connect on social media using the hashtags #GetReal and #MentalHealthWeek.
““Now more than ever, we need as much awareness as possible!” says Steininger. It is always so nice to see ads and memes that are encouraging individuals to speak of their mental health and notice some warning signs”
If you or someone you love is struggling, there is hope and help:
• Contact your local CMHA.
• Visit www.cmha.ca/bounceback
• Visit the Government of Canada’s Wellness Together portal.
• Thinking of suicide? Call 1-833-456-4566 toll free in Canada