Let’s Get Real: Mental Health Awareness Week

By Shirley Roberts

During the week of May 2nd, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) celebrates their 71st annual mental health awareness initiative. The theme this year is “Let’s #GetReal” and the focus is on ways that everyone can help. Empathy is the key to “getting real” and CMHA provides some great tips about how we can all learn to reach out to each other and practice just a little more empathy in our day-to-day relationships. 

Mental health discussions are often dominated by diagnoses and treatment and ways to seek professional help. We often hear about the gaps in mental health services, lack of access to care and the shortage of service providers.  While these are significant, the way people interact with each other every day plays a key role in expanding needed supports. 

In a recent Globe and Mail article, Erin Anderssen describes a growing body of research that shows that with the right training, neighbours, caregivers, community leaders and mentors can improve mental health outcomes for people struggling with mental health issues. The idea is not to replace professional care but to provide a grassroots approach to care “that a system focused on hospitals and credentials has too often been missing.”  As Anderssen says, “A caring human doing their empathetic best at the right time – this is the most valuable resource in mental health care.” 

Progress Place Clubhouse is a service agency and partner of The Corner that embraces the spirit of community in providing support to people facing mental health challenges. Its Clubhouse model welcomes anyone who has experienced mental illness to become a member and works side by side with members to achieve their dreams. For over thirty years they have led the way in promoting the role of peers in mental health recovery. 

Femmie Prudente, a senior who has participated in the seniors’ program run by Progress Place (PP) at The Corner, was interviewed for this article.  She described how her life changed dramatically following knee surgery. Always an active person, she felt “weak and hopeless” while in rehabilitation. Once introduced to the Progress Place seniors’ program, run through The Corner, her life really changed for the better.  She names the staff support, with their empathy, ability to listen, and genuine effort to help as key to getting back her strength and energy.  

Since then, Femmie has worked at PP to support the COVID-19 vaccination effort and looks forward to going to both agencies for the support that she receives and provides.  When asked what she would like people to know about what is most helpful to people experiencing a mental health challenge, Femmie responded, “support from family, which may be the place that you go to for support like The Corner and Progress Place.” Her experience of empathy and getting real seems to have been the sweet spot for a successful recovery. 

2022-06-17T16:03:13+01:00June 17th, 2022|Categories: General|0 Comments

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