This May 7-13 is the 67th Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) week.
Since 1951, CMHA Mental Health Week has been raising awareness to end stigma associated with mental illness by making this a “mental illness awareness week.” It provides an opportunity to take a closer look at ways to maintain and improve mental health and support recovery from mental illness and addictions.
There has been great progress in many areas since that first Mental Health Week. More Canadians are aware of mental health issues, and many believe that attitudes about mental health are improving while the stigma associated with mental health is on the decline. There are still improvements to make, and it starts with understanding what mental health really is.
Here’s what mental health is not: Mental health is not just the absence of mental illness. So what is it? Like physical health, mental health is something we all have. Most Canadians are familiar with the statistic that 1 in 5 Canadians has a mental health issue every year, but that’s not the whole story. Every one of us has mental health. Anyone can have poor mental health, and anyone can have great mental health.
Mental health is a state of being: your self-esteem, your level of stress, even your distress; how you feel about yourself and other people. These are all part of your mental health, and mental health is key to your overall health.
To get a better handle on the issue, the CMHA has researched mental health across cultures and found some basic common themes. While feeling well means different things to different people, some things seem to be universal. For example, in order to thrive, we all need a good sense of self, and we all need purpose, contribution, hope, resilience and belonging.
CMHA has developed an informal list that can help you check your own mental health in each of these areas. It won’t provide a diagnosis, but offers a tool to check in with yourself about your mental health to see where you’re at. It can help develop awareness of how you’re doing emotionally, and give you a better sense of what’s bothering you, if anything. Awareness of an issue is always the first step in addressing it. To check it out, visit https://mentalhealthweek.ca/check-in-on-your-mental-health/., and if you don’t like the answers you get, take your concerns to someone you trust- a close friend, a family member or a health professional. You’ll be better prepared to talk about them, and it might make it easier for them to understand where you’re at.
To support the Mental Health Week, drop in to Nexicom on Friday, May 11th and enjoy a BBQ lunch with some staff from the Peterborough branch of the organization. They will be there ready to talk. KG