May 17, 2021
Mental health is top of mind for many of us these days – and not just because it was Mental Health Week in Canada earlier this month.
The fact is, many of us – myself included – are feeling our mental health realities more acutely during the pandemic. Some are suffering more than others, such as people who live on their own, who are struggling financially or who have lost a loved one.
But even if you’re one of the luckier ones, you’re probably more stressed than usual from the changes and uncertainty COVID has brought to your life. And if you’re like many people, you may be trying to ignore it.
I’m always looking for silver linings, and for me, one thing we’ve gained from the pandemic is a growing awareness that everyone struggles with their mental health from time to time – and that it’s perfectly OK.
When Megan Markle talked about suicide on international television, it opened the door for other people to be able to talk about their own mental health. Every time we talk openly about what we’re going through, it helps us heal and it also helps takes some of the stigma away.
My daughter, who is a psychiatric nurse, has been quite open about her mental health challenges growing up. I’ve spoken about it publicly too, and every time I do, people from all walks of life have come up to me to say: That’s our family. That’s our son. That’s me.
Over the decades we’ve stigmatized mental health, and it’s a slow process to get past that. We need everyone to talk about it and to not feel ashamed about seeking help – to the point that people are just as comfortable talking about their 4 o’clock appointment with a therapist as they are about their 4 o’clock appointment at the dentist.
There is progress being made, however. We know a lot more now about how to help people with their mental health issues or illnesses. We know problems can affect everyone, at all ages, from all cultures and at all income levels.
However, some worrying statistics have come to light about men and mental health. Men account for more than three-quarters of Canada’s suicides, and are also three times less likely to seek help for mental health issues than women.
Clearly, more needs to be done to link men with mental health services, and one place to start is to check yourself and others around you for signs that something is not right. The next step is to say something – and if necessary, do something. That goes for all genders and ages, because take it from me, kids are not immune to mental health issues.
Not every mental health challenge requires medical intervention, of course. Physical activity and being outdoors can go a long way to improving your state of mind, at any age. We’ve been encouraging residents to get out and enjoy our parks and trails throughout the pandemic, and that includes offering safe activities for youth, like our pop-up parks during Youth Week. You can find more ideas for keeping youth engaged and active at www.coquitlam.ca/youth.
There are lots of resources out there if you want learn more about mental health, but some places to start are the Canadian Mental Health Association website at cmha.ca, and the B.C. government website at www.gov.bc.ca/mentalhealth. And the next time you’re struggling, take a chance and talk to someone about it. Odds are, they’re struggling too.
Supporting Our Community During the Pandemic
The City of Coquitlam is here to help, with these resources:
- www.coquitlam.ca/csrp: Details about the City’s Community Support and Recovery Plan, which is supporting non-profits, businesses and residents through the pandemic;
- www.coquitlam.ca/spirit: Free activities for all ages, including fitness, arts and culture, outdoor activities and ways to stay engaged; and
- www.coquitlam.ca/covid19: City service updates and COVID-19 health resources.
Stay up-to-date about City news and service changes by: