While social media platforms are nearly never in sync, the topic of mental health took them over on Thursday.
Thursday was the annual #BellLetsTalk day, where the corporation makes donations to mental health initiatives based on how many times the hashtag is shared on different platforms.
Over the years the trend has grown, and many have started telling personal stories of mental health issues, depression, anxiety and suicide.
The local chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association has had a busy 12 months in the city and is continuing to make educational programs available to Hatters.
Suicide prevention educator Allysa Larmor says mental health awareness is always important.
“We want people to talk about these things every day,” she said. “Our goal is to reduce the stigma around mental health through education.”
A big part of CMHA’s Thursday was spent sharing personal messages through social media.
“We created a video that included our employees and volunteers sharing what we all do for our own mental health,” she said. “We reached out to the community and asked people what they did for their mental health.
“Conversations like this will break down the stigmas around mental health and mental illness.”
While CMHA takes an educational approach to mental health issues, organizations like the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society, Medicine Hat Police Service, For All the Brothers, Inner Man Project, Our Collective Journey, the local food bank and many others also play a role in the community.
With Medicine Hat getting rocked by suicide this past year, Larmor says conversations need to keep happening.
“These conversations are more important now than ever,” she said. “People are more isolated now and that is a struggle when it comes to mental health.
“Isolation is breaking people.”
The Medicine Hat Police Service shared a number of images and messages on Thursday, with the hopes of breaking stigmas around metal health.
“We know it’s important to break stigmas so we can have important conversations,” said chief Mike Worden. “For us, we have to look at our staff and to make sure that they are able to talk about how they’re doing.
“I’m looking into the supports staff have available to them, and I want to make sure they have what they need.”
Worden says a good number of calls to police are mental health related.
“How can you respond to these calls and help, if you aren’t OK yourself? That’s one of the reasons we talk to our staff so much about mental health,” he said. “So many calls we get are linked to mental health in one way or another.”
The local chapter of CMHA has received extra government funding and is offering a wide range of programs. More information can be found by calling 403-504-1811.
Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News