Mental Health & Awareness Week

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May 2-8, was National Mental Health Awareness Week, and we want to join the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in spreading the word about the importance of mental health. As CMHA says, mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness.

images-15Mental health is a state of well-being, and staying mentally healthy is just like staying physically fit – it requires a little effort every day. We know why being physically healthy is important, so why is staying mentally healthy also important? Well, we cannot truly be healthy without it. Our mental health involves how we feel, think, act, and interact with our world. If these processes are disrupted, how could we possibly reach a state of well-being?

There are many things that you can do to make sure you stay mentally healthy and don’t get worn out by the stress and demands of everyday life. For example, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper sleep all help to maintain both your physical and mental health, and can help keep you charged, energized, and resilient. Alcohol and drug use also have an impact on both our physical health and mental well-being.

Just like eating unhealthy foods, alcohol and illicit drugs have no nutritional value and so they create an extra stressor on our body as it works to digest and remove these toxins from your system. This extra stress on our body is now taking up resources that could normally be used elsewhere, which decreases our resiliency in being able to cope with problems or stress. Furthermore, alcohol and drugs can lead to the development of serious physical and mental illnesses such as cancer, liver disease, depression, and anxiety. For some individuals who already struggling with a mental illness, alcohol and drugs can help to maintain or worsen some of your symptoms.

So, just like we need to take care of our bodies we need to remember to take care of our minds. Practicing moderation in the use of alcohol and abstinence in the use of illicit drugs is one step that you can take towards reaching a higher level of well-being. Reducing your consumption of alcohol and/or drugs can decrease your risk for physical illness, as well as support your mind and body in dealing with the daily stressors in your life.

It is also important to remember that sometimes people find it difficult to cope when they are experiencing mental health difficulties. Sometimes when individuals feel anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed they turn to alcohol and drugs as a way of trying to self-medicate. People may also turn to drugs and alcohol because they think it is easier than trying to reach out for help, especially if they are afraid of being judged or stigmatized. Unfortunately, this decision is not helpful in the long-term and can often make things worse.

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As part of National Mental Health Week, the CMHA is encouraging individuals to #GET LOUD about mental health to try and reduce some of the stigma around mental health. We want to join this movement and encourage everyone to start talking about mental health. If we can break down some of the walls and stigma, then perhaps those who do need help can feel more comfortable to come forward and ask for it. We need to be there for each other because it is only through working together that we can build stronger, safer, and healthier communities.

So let’s #GET LOUD together. Take the BE YOU PROMISE to be the best, and healthiest you that you can be.

Be You Promise Logo 2016