#GetReal this Mental Health Awareness Week
By Lisa Malowany, SARC Program Manager and Trainer
This week of May 4-10 has been proclaimed by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) as Mental Health Week. Every year, CMHA ties a different theme to the week to help raise awareness of a different mental health topic. This year’s theme is #GetReal.
When you greet someone, what is one of the first things they ask? Usually it’s something like, “How’re you doing?” with a typical response being, “I’m fine”. Often, you are not fine, but you feel like that is the acceptable answer. Now it is time to #GetReal and be free to say that you are not fine and open a conversation about how you are really feeling.
Did you know that 1 in 5 Canadians will struggle with mental health issues in any given year? That means that 1 in 5 people you greet will not be ‘fine’ or ‘ok’ when you ask them how they’re doing. It’s always important for us to be aware of what we can do support our or other people’s mental health needs.
Resources for People Looking for Mental Health Supports
For the past two years, SARC has promoted Mental Health First Aid training and hosted several sessions to help people gain the skills needed to support someone who are struggling with their mental health or experiencing a mental health crisis. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to temporarily postpone any in-person training, to ensure everyone’s safety.
We look forward to the day when we can again start hosting Mental Health First Aid training, but in the meantime, where do you look for support? There is a plethora of information available online for anyone to access for mental health support. The Government of Canada partnered with several organizations to develop the Wellness Together Canada Mental Health Portal. This website provides free online resources, tools, apps and the ability to connect with trained volunteers and mental health professionals when needed. By creating an account on this website and answering a few questions about how you are feeling, supports will be available to you based on your current situation. It’s important to note that if someone is in immediate danger or needs immediate medical support, call 911.
In addition to the Wellness Together Canada Mental Health Portal, the Mental Health Commission of Canada has developed three crisis response training programs that focus on caring for yourself, caring for your team, and caring for others. These are all based on a first come first served basis. This training is available at no cost to essential workers as defined by the Government of Canada, which includes the following: ‘Workers that provide critical personal support services in home and also provide residential services for individuals with disabilities, including those who maintain equipment for those with disabilities’.
Stay Connected and Share How you Truly Feel
The COVID-19 pandemic has many of us feeling uncertain, anxious, or afraid. Although we don’t know when this pandemic will end, what we need is to find supports that will focus on helping us get through it. Sharing how you truly feel may help to alleviate some stress or concerns you might be having, as well as help others who may be feeling the same way. This Mental Health Week, how will you #GetReal and reach out to others in your life and community?