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May 2014 Newsletter

Mental Health Awareness

National Mental Health Week in Canada in 2014 was May 5th to 11th.  It is a week in which we help raise awareness of mental health and well-being issues.  The theme this year was anxiety, one of the leading causes of mental ill health in the world.

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Our mental health is just as important as our physical health and it can have a profound effect not only on the individual who is suffering, but also on those around them.  Good mental health allows you to feel, think and act in ways that help you enjoy life, handle its everyday stresses and relate to others emotionally.

One out of every five Canadians (adults and children) are affected by some form of mental illness at some point in their lives.  Many do not seek treatment because of the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems.  More and more people are opening up about their bouts of depression and other conditions such as anxiety.  However, conditions such as psychosis and schizophrenia often remain in the shadows.

What is mental illness?  A mental illness can be defined as a psychological pattern, potentially reflected in behavior, that is generally associated with distress or disability, and which is not considered part of normal development.

The symptoms associated with mental disorders affect how we think, feel and behave.  Symptoms can include depressed mood, extreme mood swings, disturbances in thought or perception, obsessions or fears and overwhelming feelings of anxiety.  Mental illnesses can be treated and often with excellent results.

Knowing if you have a mental illness is not always easy because symptoms vary with each person.  Some of the possible symptoms are:

Physical Changes – hyperactivity or inactivity; poor hygiene or personal care, unexplained weight gain or loss and oversleeping or being unable to sleep

Changes in Mood – prolonged expressions of loss and hopelessness; loss of interest in regular routine activities and extreme excitement or euphoria

Changes in Behaviour

According to the World Health Organization, untreated mental illnesses are among the most disabling of all health situations.

If you are feeling mentally unwell, it is important to understand that the sooner you get the help you need, the sooner you will be back to feeling like yourself again.

To sum up, while we commemorate mental health awareness one week a year, it should be celebrated year round by reaching out to others, sharing our experiences and struggles with mental illness and well-being.