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Depending on who you are, where you live, your life experience and a wide variety of other factors, the term ‘mental health’ may hold many different meanings. You might use the term ‘mental health‘ to refer to your own emotional state, stress levels, or in regards to how you’re generally coping in life. You might use the term ‘mental health’ to refer to any number of diagnoses that 1 in 5 Canadians struggle with everyday. Perhaps you use the term ‘mental health’ in place of the term ‘mental illness’ as a way to positively address the stigma that many people face as a result of living with a mental health diagnosis. Even still, you may have never used the term ‘mental health’ at all, in reference to yourself or anyone else, and today might mark the first time that you have considered what the term ‘mental health’ might mean to you.
This week, from May 4th to May 8th, we celebrate the Canadian Mental Health Associations ‘Mental Health Week’ in Canada and consider what the term ‘Mental Health’ means for 7.5 million Canadians. This is a time for all of us to increase our awareness of mental health issues and the available mental health services in our communities. This year, the conversations around mental health are more prominent than ever as we face and live with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the increased need for social distancing and the systematic reduction of all non-essential services, many people are now experiencing the negative impacts of social isolation and the resulting decrease in their mental health. For those already living with mental health challenges, isolation and a reduction of available services has been profoundly affecting.
Mental Health services such as the Connections Place clubhouse are providing a lifeline to its members and the community by offering effective services and support programs to help disrupt isolation and build the social connections necessary for people to maintain their mental health and wellness. Currently, the clubhouse offers daily outreach through its Member Outreach Program as well as a variety of online Zoom meetings through its ‘Virtual Clubhouse’ where we have seen many new supportive relationships grow.
It is the support of our community, donors, and funders that make the delivery of these services possible. Connections Place could not continue to provide the necessary service provision our community needs at this time without the generous support from initiatives such as the Rapid Relief Fund supported by the Victoria Foundation, the times Colonist, and the Jawl Foundation.