Mental Health Awareness Week 2023:
Tuning Into Each Other
Mental health week in Canada is quickly approaching and deserves our undivided attention. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has coined May 1-7, 2023 as seven days to raise awareness around the need for universal mental health care. It’s seven days to tune into each other to combat an illness that affects 1 in 5 Canadians every single year.
Everyone has mental health, it's in our DNA, and whether or not you struggle with mental health issues, it is important to everyone, all over the world. Mental illness affects LGBTQ youth, men, women, marginalized groups, adolesence, and even young children. In addition to the 1 in 5 Canadians suffering from mental illness each year, did you know that:
*The Trevor Project's 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
*According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, it is estimated that 1 in 7 (14%) 10-19 year-olds experience mental health conditions, yet these remain largely unrecognized and untreated.
*In a recent study by Mental Health America, over 6 million men suffer from depression each year. And men suffering from mental illnesses are less likely to receive mental health treatment or even a diagnosis.
Mental health needs are at an all-time high and the current resolutions are inadequate. But there are things that you and I can offer to help combat this crisis.
Although mental health awareness should be something that we focus on year-round, mental health awareness week is a good time to start. To start practicing empathy and finding space to meet each other where we are. To start working on breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and to start forging bonds and finding peace in collective healing rather than in isolation.
Finding Empathy, Fighting the Stigma,
and Collective Healing
It starts with the ability to be empathetic. Empathy encourages vulnerability and promotes the sharing of personal experiences and stories. By finding empathy, we can hone in on and understand the feelings of the people around us thus allowing them to trust and confide in us. In reality, the more empathy that we have as a society, the more people that are suffering from mental health issues will ask for help.
With empathy comes the desire and effort to combat the stigma that surrounds mental illness and mental health conditions. Due to the widespread misconceptions about mental health, many people suffer in silence and do not get the treatment they need. We need to re-frame our point of view and approach to combat, and understand mental health while ensuring proper care for those who are in need.
By sharing our stories and raising awareness about an illness that affects so many of us, we are able to heal together rather than in isolation. We are able to forge real, human bonds and heal collectively rather than alone.
Eight Ways To Combat Our Mental Health Crisis
In an ode to mental health awareness week, we’ve put together a list of ways we can individually and collectively tune into each other to help combat mental health.
1. Speak openly about mental health.
2. Practice active listening. Take the time to truly listen and understand when someone shares their mental health story to create a supportive space. Listen to hear, not to respond.
3. Learn about empathy and compassion by practicing care and understanding toward others' mental health experiences. Acknowledge their feelings, validate their emotions, and offer comfort and support without minimizing their stories. We spend a lot of time talking about empathy in our podcast Empathy Everywhere.
4. Use this week as a kickstart to better educate yourself on mental health. Education helps us better understand and support others who may be experiencing these challenges. There are a wealth of helpful resources to get your started.
-Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive by Marc Brackett
- Empathy: Why It Matters and How to Get It by Roman Krznaric
- Beautiful Boy by David Sheff.
- You, Me, Empathy by Nōn Wels
- Empathy Everywhere by me, Victoria Ferguson
5. Check in with friends, family, neighbours, and strangers that you think may be struggling with mental health regularly. Offer support and encourage open communication.
6. Offer help and guidance and encourage the people in your life who are suffering from mental health conditions to seek professional help. Prpvide resources and information about available mental health servies in their location.
7. Spend May 1st to 7th raising awareness about mental health by supporting mental health foundations in your community such as the Looking Glass Foundation and SafeBAE.
The Looking Glass Foundation supports individuals affected by eating disorders and disordered eating. They offer innovative and accessible programs and services to community members in need of support no matter where they are on their recovery journey.
SafeBAE is a survivor-founded, student-led national organization working to prevent sexual violence among middle and high school students. They are working to enlist all school stakeholders in culture change by giving teens the tools to become peer-to-peer advocates of sexual harassment and assault prevention and affirmative consent, safe bystander intervention, survivor care, and Title IX education. They also provide school staff with trauma-informed response training, curriculum, policy reform guidance, and resources to reduce recidivism.
8. Research shows that there is a mental health impact for people who feel under attack or discriminated against. As part of your commitment to combatting mental health, actively value and encourage inclusivity.
East 29th's mission for Mental Health Awareness
At East 29th, our mission is to establish a conscious dialogue that connects both the physical and mental health awareness behind the clean beauty movement while embodying a mindful transition to not only being seen but also felt. Can you imagine a world led with empathy in mind and followed through with empathy-driven actions? Let’s start today.