Canadian Mental Health Week poses new challenges in Lethbridge

With the isolation and anxiety that can come with self isolation amid a global pandemic, Canadian Mental Health Week is even more crucial this year.

Local Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) officials say that their challenge to Lethbridge residents this year is to not only speak up for mental health, but to reach out to others and check in, whether by phone, text or video chat, as often as possible.

“We partner with Volunteer Lethbridge and a number of other organizations like Lethbridge Family Centre and Lethbridge Family Services, to try and provide as many different services as possible,” David Gabert with CMHA said Tuesday.

He says many of the services for families and parents are free, and adds that those living alone and struggling with isolation can sign up for free wellness checks through Volunteer Lethbridge.

“They can have somebody call them and talk to them, and just have that conversation,” Gabert said.

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This year marks the 69th annual event, which is aimed to shift perceptions about mental health and encourage people to seek assistance and support their mental well being.

“We’re really hoping that people, when they need that connection, are reaching out,” Gabert said.

Lethbridge psychologist Chelsea King said she hopes this time will give people an opportunity to reevaluate how they care for their mental health and learn to prioritize it.

“Sometimes it gets put on the back burner a little bit,” King said. “People just kind of fixate on other things or they have too many things on their to-do lists.”

She says her clients all have different challenges during COVID-19, but one thing she has been saying over and over again is to be patient with yourself while managing these major life changes.

“Giving yourself some grace is one of the things I’ve been talking about a lot because everyone is doing the best they can,” King said.

“We’ve never been in this type of situation. A lot of people feel a lot of pressure to use this time appropriately and some people are just trying to survive and get through it.”

She adds that many of her clients are children, who are struggling now with being away from their friends, classmates, teams and mentors, as well as not having their regular routines.

King says it’s important for families to discuss mental health together, and to reach out for resources to facilitate those conversations.

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