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Mental Health Week

A pandemic is a very stressful event for individuals and communities. It’s normal to feel some stress and anxiety. It’s also very common for people to display great resiliency during times of crisis. We should remember that this is absolutely the time to lean on each other. Even if we can’t be close physically, we need to stay close emotionally. So, while you’re staying in, stay in touch with each other, and reach out if you need support. The Canadian Mental Health Association is urging Canadians to “get real” about what they’re going through during this pandemic - an unprecedented time that has brought mental health into the spotlight perhaps more than ever before. As part of the organization’s 69th edition of Mental Health Week, CMHA is focusing on social connections and their importance in maintaining good mental health. This year, the CHMA is hoping Canadians “get real” with what they’re going through, meaning to really open up with someone about what they might be experiencing. About Mental Health Week • This year, CMHA Mental Health Week is being observed May 4-10, 2020. • Every year since 1951, CMHA has hosted Mental Health Week in the first full week in May, making 2020 the 69th year. • Mental Health Week is a Canadian tradition, with communities, schools and workplaces rallying to celebrate, protect and promote mental health. • Visit for info and tools about CMHA Mental Health Week. • Connect on social media using the hashtags #GetReal and #MentalHealthWeek. About the 2020 Mental Health Week Campaign • This year, the theme is ‘social connection’ and its importance for mental health. The campaign this year calls for us to #GetReal about how we really feel. • This year’s campaign is based on the insight that people in Canada commonly ask one another how we are but that it is also common not to provide – or expect – a truthful answer. Many of us say we’re fine, even when we don’t mean it. ‘Fine’ keeps us at arm’s length from real social connections with others. Every time we just go through the motions, we miss a chance to connect with others in a meaningful way. • Each year, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness or mental health issue, but 5 in 5 Canadians has mental health—we all need social connection. An Epidemic of Loneliness • Even before there was COVID-19, loneliness and social isolation were already of major concern in our society. • People with weak or few social connections are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviour and suicidal behaviours.1 • Lack of strong relationships affects the risk of mortality in a comparable way to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.2 • A 2017 Vancouver Foundation survey found that nearly a third of people aged 18-24 in the bustling city said that they felt lonely.3 • Research shows that loneliness is more keenly felt by people who belong to a visible minority, who are Indigenous, who have mobility challenges and who are LGBTQ- identifying.4 The Importance of Social Connection • Social inclusion and social integration have been identified by the WHO and the UN as important protective factors for good mental health. • By providing emotional support, companionship and opportunities for meaningful social engagement, social networks have an influence on self-esteem, coping effectiveness, depression, distress and sense of well-being (Berkman & Glass, 2000). • Social networks and social ties have a beneficial effect on mental health outcomes, including stress reactions, psychological well-being and symptoms of psychological distress including depression and anxiety (Kawachi & Berkman 2001). • Studies show that having social connections and being civically engaged are associated with positive mental and physical health and well-being. • Research has shown that even having one good friend can save children from being lonely. Social Connection in a Time of Social Distancing • Everyone needs emotional support, but it’s even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. • Some experts have argued that social distancing should actually be called physical distancing, because we actually need each other socially. • The pandemic can bring us together in unexpected ways. Canada has been at the forefront of a campaign for caremongering, which has seen members of the community helping one another during these difficult times. Phone calls, video calls and other digital technologies offer excellent opportunities for connecting face-to-face, even when we can’t be in the same room. • Social connection can help us recover as a community. Banwell & Kingham 2015; Carpenter, 2013.) Source:


The Centre for Newcomers provides crisis and mental health support. To book an appointment please contact us at any time: Phone: 403-569-3325 Shamaila Akram, Manager Vulnerable Population Services Gulnar Hemani, Settlement Practitioner Vulnerable Population Services


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