Local Canadian Mental Health Association staff are getting ready for the 71st annual Mental Health Awareness Week, happening May 2-8.
“Mental Health Week is a national awareness week, which is intended to raise awareness not only of mental health, but mental illness and wellness and everything having to do with that,” Breanne Mellen, CMHA suicide prevention program co-ordinator, told the News.
In any given year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health concern. Albertans have consistently scored lowest on the Canadian Mental Health Index’s annual report for the past three years.
Mellen hopes the week will provide community members with more information about mental health, as well as resources available to anyone struggling. She also hopes it will spark conversations among community members.
“Every year, there’s a theme which coincides with what’s happening in the world,” Mellen said. “This year’s theme is, ‘Get real about how to help.’ Last year, we focused on getting real with ourselves about our mental health, but now there’s been a shift. We are now more aware of mental health problems and we’re more aware individuals can struggle with mental health, so now we’re encouraging people to help others.”
Several events are scheduled throughout the week, which Mellen invites Hatters to take part in.
“Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off with the Move for Mental Health Walk/Run,” she said. “We also have a couple of free training programs on how to help others and how to recognize when someone needs help. It’s also the kickoff of our Ride Don’t Hide campaign in partnership with our collective journey.
“Ride Don’t Hide is Canada’s largest bike for mental health charity campaign … Its focus is on how our bodies and our brains are not two separate things. When our body feels good and our bodies moving, our brain can feel good, because our brain is also moving … It’s really to get people out, get people moving and get people connecting with the community.”
Registration for Ride Don’t Hide, which will take place June 19, opens next week. For more information, or for mental health assistance, contact CMHA at 403-504-1811.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News