Mental Illness Awareness Week is taking place from October 3-9, 2021 and it serves as an opportunity for all of us to learn more about mental illness and share our experiences with each other. It is also a good reminder to think about our own mental well-being and how we are practicing self-care.
The need to prioritize our mental health is more important than ever. There is no doubt that the impact COVID-19 has put a strain on our mental health and created new challenges for those who were already living with mental illness. According to polling done by Mental Health Research Canada, Canadians reported experiencing the highest levels anxiety (25%) and depression (17%) to date during the pandemic.
We have seen this increased need at Victoria Hospital and in facilities across our city and province. Undoubtedly, the urgent need for mental health services will be with us for the foreseeable future.
People of all ages are vulnerable to mental health concerns, and seniors are no exception. The Mental Health Commission of Canada reports that more than 1.8 million Canadians over age 60 are living with a mental health issue or illness. According to the Government of Canada’s 2016 Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors, a decline in the mental health of seniors can often be linked to social isolation. Since the onset of COVID-19, older adults in our community may be experiencing even more social isolation and loneliness in addition to a lack of support.
With so many of us and our loved ones experiencing mental health concerns, what do we do about it? Breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness is a good place to start. Weeks like Mental Illness Awareness Week are a great way to help us start this conversation, raise awareness, and educate ourselves and others about mental illness and the resources available in our community. But it is important for all of us to remember to keep this conversation going all year long.
At The Vic Foundation, we are dedicated to supporting the healing, recovery, and wellness of individuals living with mental health concerns in our community. Together with our community service Victoria Lifeline, we work to combat social isolation in seniors through our Send A Smile To A Senior program. Calls For Comfort, our latest Send A Smile To A Senior initiative, saw us partner with For Richmond Collegiate on weekly calls between students and seniors to help support their well-being.
If you or someone you love is experiencing mental health concerns, it is important to know that there are resources available to provide support. For more information on the mental health resources available in Manitoba, check out the Mental Health & Wellness Resource Finder on the Shared Health website at SharedHealthMB.ca.
Erin Girouard is the Communications & Public Relations Manager at Victoria General Hospital Foundation. This article is meant to be informational in nature and should not replace the advice of a trained healthcare professional.