By Dawn Dunlop-Pugh, Canadian Mental Health Association
You may see the title “Why mental health matters” and think that this doesn’t apply to you. The most important message is YES, it does! May 6–12 is Mental Health Week in Canada. In partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association; the Columbia Basin Trust, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Interior Health Authority, School District #19, City of Revelstoke, Community Connections, Revelstoke Awareness and Outreach Program, Chamber of Commerce, Options for Sexual Health and several other community organizations and individuals have planned several events in the community.
We all have mental health. Mental health is a state of overall mental and physical health and well-being. Maintaining good mental health in today’s hectic and stress-filled society is a challenge.
Sometimes we only think of mental health when there is a problem and we need to seek out support. Mental health is not just about the absence of mental illness. Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, and can work productively and fruitfully.
In some cases, good mental health practices assist in protecting against to the onset of mental health problems and illnesses. As stated, by the World Health Organization “there is no health without mental health.”
Positive mental health involves emotional and psychological wellness, a positive and confident self-perception, healthy relationships, and an ability to take control of actions and feelings on a daily basis. By being aware, we can take positive steps towards mental health when the balance is disrupted.
One in four people in British Columbia will have a mental health problem that requires treatment. Only about one-third of those who require specialized mental health services in Canada actually receive service. Individuals are concerned that if they talk about their mental health they will be viewed differently.
Having a mental health diagnosis is not a weakness of character, it is a health condition. Due to this misunderstanding people are apprehensive to speak out and seek help. On average, people will deal with 10 mental health episodes before reaching out and seeking help. This is due to stigma.
Mental health affects us all; it is not related to occupation, age, race, educational backgrounds, or socio-economic status. The events being hosted this week will be focused towards education and information, access to services and supports, and working towards de-stigmatizing mental health.
Language shapes how we see the world. The words we choose and the meanings we attach to them influence our feelings, attitudes and beliefs. We have a choice in the words we use to describe others and the world around us. These choices have a powerful effect on how we view mental health and people that live with mental health conditions. Have you ever used the word crazy, addict, disturbed, insane, schzio, nuts, etc… Think about how you have used them in the past and be mindful that these words are referencing people that live with a serious and persistent health issue.
Balancing your life. Mental health means striking a balance in all aspects of your life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental. Reaching a balance is a learning process and a different journey for each person. At times, you may tip the balance too much in one direction and have to find your footing again. Your personal balance will be unique, and your challenge will be to stay mentally healthy by keeping that balance.
Here are some suggestions to help you find and keep your balance: exercise, develop positive relationships, set personal goals, figure out your priorities, learn ways to cope with negative thoughts, get involved in your community, get a good night sleep, do a hobby you love, and eat healthy.
Mental health week is a great opportunity to raise awareness of this issue, but we need to not only educate the community during a few weeks a year but engage in this conversation year round.