Mental health issues impact millions of people across the world, and here in Canada, 1 in 5 people will personally experience a mental health problem or illness every year. Mental health does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures. That’s why it’s important to remember — seeking help for these issues is a sign of strength — not a weakness.
Since 2013, I’ve been a board member of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in Ottawa and served as the President and Chair of the Board from 2014 to 2016. There’s a reason why I’ve contributed to this organization: I am strongly passionate about working to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
In my experience working with CMHA, I’ve learned that mental health goes far beyond the definition of what we think it means. In fact, fostering a healthy mental state is the key to our overall well-being. Maintaining a positive mental health helps us cope with the normal stresses of life. Regardless of the obstacles we face individually, it’s about living and feeling well as we overcome them.
I think good mental health is in everyone’s reach. One of the best ways to foster a positive mental state is to volunteer or support a good cause.
Not only does getting involved in something that really matters provide a feeling of purpose and belonging, it also connects you with people who share similar interests or values — and at the same time — it can help you learn new skills and build confidence. Be a volunteer. Read to children at your local library, visit the elderly in a nursing care facility, serve on the board of your favorite charity, or simply lend a helping hand to someone.
Another way to rejuvenate your mind, in my personal experience, is by changing up your routine. Even a small change-of-pace can alleviate some of life’s mundane moments we all experience from time to time. It can be as simple as altering your jogging route, planning a weekend road-trip, or trying a new restaurant.
Social support is another important component of good mental health. People in our networks can offer emotional support, practical help, and provide alternate points of view. Support can come from family and friends, colleagues, neighbours, faith communities or other groups.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.
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