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Mental health fair brings awareness

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Mental health is a term most associate with a problem. Phrases like “He has a mental health problem,” or “I heard she’s suffering from mental health” are commonly used, and are also completely wrong.
Mental health is the same as physical health; it is a term used to describe a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. Saying someone is suffering from mental health is the same as someone having a broken leg and saying they suffer from physical health. It doesn’t make sense.
October 6th to the 12th was Mental Health Awareness Week in the province and locally efforts were made to try to raise awareness and remove the stigma associated with mental health issues.
“Ask them if they have mental health, explain to them what it is, use that word as many times as you can in your conversations so people get used to it. That’s destigmatizing,” said Terry Hatch, Self Help; Anger Management Facilitator, Canadian Mental Health Association.
Hatch ran a mental health fair at the Otineka Mall as part of efforts to educate people about mental health local for mental health awareness week. This was the fourth year for the fair and while attendance was down, Hatch added she was pleased to see an increase in the number and range of groups and organizations which took part.
“This year I’ve invited some other groups because I’m beginning to realize mental health (supports) is everywhere. So I’ve invited the Aurora House and the wellness department (from the Town of The Pas),” said Hatch, adding there were other invitees who weren’t able to attend this year but aimed to be at next years’ fair. “These ones here are also offering services so they are important to know and I’m also learning from them what services they provide so that if I get somebody (who needs assistance) I know where to send them to get help, or they know that I’m here now.”
Getting assistance for those who may be facing mental health related issues or concerns are still difficult, though it is improving. There is still a stigma associated with mental health concerns and as that stigma slowly lifts more help is beginning to be offered. Still, it has a long ways to go locally in some aspects.
“We have 5,000 people that need help, they need to talk to someone but they got no one to talk to because they don’t want to talk to their families, they don’t want to talk to their friends, because they don’t want to worry about them or they don’t want to gossip or they don’t want to let them know they’re having problems,” said Hatch. “We have five councillors. There’s no way that that’s going to work, so I’m in a middle group so what can happen is they can come and talk to me, they can release whatever it is they are holding inside because that can make them sick. They can vent some of it. I’m not a councillor, I don’t have all the answers, I may not have any of the answers but I can listen and then that helps.”
For those seeking help, they can contact the Canadian Mental Health Association at their office in The Pas which is located on Third Street.

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Trent Allen
EDITOR
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