By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
Hidden in one of the menus on the Government of Canada is a list of various ‘health holidays’.
Looking at the month of May, the third to the ninth of the month is Mental Health Week, a time to bring awareness to the mental health of Canadians.
This is especially poignant in 2021, well over a year after the world as we know it was turned upside down amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The theme of Mental Health Week 2021, per the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) web site, is #getreal.
“This Mental Health Week, let’s name, express and deal with our emotions – even the uncomfortable ones,” is written on the CMHA webpage dedicated to the week.
“Because heavy feelings lighten when you put them into words. Embrace all your emotions – whether they feel good or challenging or difficult. It’s all part of being human…don’t go comfortably numb.”
The world is stressed out right now.
More and more people are requesting mental health services.
Depending on which statistics you look at, suicides could be on the rise, though a February 2021 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article debunks that, saying that suicides actually decreased last year.
Regardless, the actual suicide numbers of the pandemic likely won’t be known for several years, until Statistics Canada has deciphered all the data.
That said, according to a mental health week press release, 40 per cent of Canadians say their mental health has suffered in the past year, a statistic backed up by recently reported numbers from the RCMP, who have seen an uptick in calls of that category.
This stress is understandable, with the economy under siege due to the health restrictions in place and many people concerned about their finances. The anxiety is real.
It’s also normal.
The world has undergone a mass trauma unknown to those living in this generation.
Emotions are real. Emotions are valid. Feeling them is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.
Let yourself feel.
Mental health services are available at no charge through Alberta Health Services, and for those with deeper pockets, a variety of private mental health service providers are available as well.
With the vaccines here, the world is on the cusp of getting back to somewhat normal.
Maybe as part of “somewhat normal” we can make looking after mental health a regular thing.
If you are struggling, help can be reached via Alberta Health Link at 811. The provincial mental health helpline can be reached at 1-877-303-2642. If you are at risk to self or others, call 911.