Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Week in Canada. There is so much stigma attached to mental health that people who are struggling with it suffer in silence because they don’t know how others will react. Mental Health affects all of us and we need to have an environment which will offer support and ultimately encourage open communication.
Although everyone has have been greatly affected by the pandemic, its effect is even greater for people with mental health challenges. In a recent national survey conducted by CMHA and the University of British Columbia, the research found that 40 per cent of Canadians have experienced a decline in their mental health since the pandemic started. “The second wave of the pandemic has intensified feelings of stress and anxiety, causing alarming levels of despair, suicidal thoughts and hopelessness in the Canadian population.” We are currently in the third wave of COVID.
Annually, since 1951, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has hosted Mental Health Week in the first full week in May, making 2021 the 70th year. Mental Health Week is a Canadian tradition, with communities, schools and workplaces rallying to celebrate, protect and promote mental health.
People with mental illness need to know that they are not alone and that it isn’t something to be ashamed of. This year’s campaign is, “let’s name, express and deal with our emotions— even the uncomfortable ones. Because heavy feelings lighten when you put them into words. Embrace all of your emotions—whether they feel good or challenging or difficult. It’s all part of being human. This week—and every week after—don’t go uncomfortably numb. #GetReal about how you feel. And name it, don’t numb it.”
Education is key in the fight against the stigma associated with mental illness. The more we learn, the more we understand that “just like cancer or diabetes, mental illness is a medical condition that can affect the lives of individuals of any age, race, religion or income level.”
Let us do our part and provide a positive environment which is very important in helping the person to “achieve and maintain a successful recovery”. Be that person they can get real with.