Wednesday, 03 May 2017 13:38

Acknowledging mental health concerns really starts with looking in the mirror

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The 66th Annual Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week is May 1-7 and May is national mental health month. It’s sad it has taken so long for people to start to understand the importance of the need of good mental health or even what it means.

Many of us have been raised that we “need to be tough”; or to just “suck it up”; don't be “a wimp” (or other derogatory words) etc.
We all know people who are struggling with something of a personal nature, but often times we don’t want to get involved so we steer clear of them altogether instead of offering assistance or some sort of encouragement or even a smile. Perhaps some of us haven’t been taught differently.,
What the CMHA is doing is trying to educate the masses of the importance of mental health. With all of its faults the internet, and I think the prominence of social media, mental health is getting the attention it deserves because there’s more opportunity for it to be seen, better explained and the power of public opinion is building momentum.
Armed with the Twitter hashtags #sickofwaiting and #getloud, the CMHA is hoping to help educate governments into adding some funding for mental health programs.
The CMHA through its website offers some good suggestions in how to help people deal with a lot of sources for issues such as the workplace, school and personal situations.
Offering tips such as getting exercise, talking with loved ones like friends and family or seeking out the treatment one needs, are all aspects the CMHA is trying to teach.
According to their statistics, approximately seven million Canadians, or 20 per cent of the population, have poor mental health, mental illness or addiction. Of that 20 per cent, only a third of people seek  and receive the mental health treatment they need.
The CMHA notes it’s kept hidden because of the “association discrimination” with mental health and its bad stigma. They add 4,000 Canadians die each year due to suicide.
The federal government transfers funds to the provinces which are to be used specifically for mental health education.
However, will the provinces support it? Too often governments have developed this mantra of “not our problem” and offloaded the issues to groups or individuals. Is mental health treatment and education a priority? The recent annual’s mayor’s luncheon in Swift Current and Prairie Rose School Division’s lobby for mental health support in rural schools are encouraging signs. Perhaps inadvertently governments are partially correct in one aspect: maybe it does start with the individual. We all need to have a little more compassion, empathy and common sense. That doesn’t mean we need to take the sole responsibility of someone’s well being. All it means is a simple  just “being nice” by smiling or perhaps helping lift one’s spirits through a kind word or gesture. Somewhere along the way society’s overall compassion has been replaced by a “what have you done for me lately” and self-centred attitudes. Turning a blind eye or not caring about those you know, doesn’t help the overall mental health of society.
As the saying goes: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
This is the dilemma the CMHA is fighting for the last 66 years. We need to find ways to better fight this battle so we can help a neighbour and perhaps yourself.
Try getting out of your comfort zone this week. Without getting into trouble, give a loved one a hug, help someone who needs it, smile at a stranger, get a semi-colon tattoo, read up on what can alleviate what stresses you out.
Do something — you’re the only who can.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor