Today's culture is familiar with the concept of taking care of oneself and having "me time" but what exactly does that involve? Eating well, working out, massages, socializing with loved ones, or getting out in nature? Self care is a popular term but often only encompassing what we can do for ourselves physically and socially. Health is both physical and mental. As the World Health Organization points out, "there is no physical health without good mental health." However, our culture often waits for a crisis to occur when it comes to mental health to look into ways we can address mental health challenges. Retired Senator Michael Kirby, first chairman of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, pointed out in a recent article in the Ottawa Citizen, that "a big focus needs to be on getting to (people) who (have mental health) problems before they are so serious that they need to go to a hospital or an emergency room" (Crawford, 2016). Why then do people not take care of their mental health just as they would their physical health? People hire physical trainers to help them get and stay fit or they spend money on their body through various spa services but people are not willing to spend money on learning how to take care of their mental well being until their is a crisis. I urge people to think of counselling as an opportunity to build resilience and understanding of one's self before they reach a crisis point in their life. Having someone to even if it is a few times a year to help you stay on your desired life course could help avoid long term social emotional challenges that arise during more difficult life periods.
Article - http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/end-two-tier-mental-health-care-system-michael-kirby-urges
The Globe & Mail recently launched a series in its Life Section, called the Opening Minds Series. One of its most compelling articles was on building a case for publicly funded therapy. Journalist Erin Anderssen explores why psychotherapy is not publicly funded and questions it when the statistics show that 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health crisis in their lifetime and over $50 billion a year is spent on supporting Canadians with mental health concerns. Furthermore, "Canadian physicians bill provincial governments $1-billion a year for “counselling and psychotherapy” – one third of which goes to family doctors – a service many of them acknowledge they are not best suited to provide" (Anderssen, 2015).
The article helps to reveal compelling research that shows the benefits of psychotherapy in assisting Canadians rebuild their lives after being affected by mental health and the evidence shows it is just as effective as using pharmaceuticals alone. While no particular therapeutic approach stands out as the most effective in assisting clients with mental health concerns, the most important take away is that clients benefit from psychotherapy because its beneficial to have an advocate to help them navigate their concerns. Contrary to Western society's belief that we can conquer our own challenges alone, those battling mental health concerns need advocates and supports in place to help them feel they are not alone in their recovery. Trained therapists can also offer professional third party guidance in navigating mental health concerns with different strategies customized to the clients needs. Here's to hoping that Canada in the future will provide some basic coverage for mental health challenges.
Read full article here.
Anderssen, E. 2015. "OPEN MINDS: BETTER MENTAL HEALTH CARE - The case for publicly funded therapy." The Globe & Mail. Retreived at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-case-for-publicly-funded-therapy/article24567332/
Yesterday I spoke to an audience of educators in Ottawa at the CECMH Conference about the importance of creating a culture of sharing thoughts and feelings in their classrooms so that mental health concerns can be identified early on avoiding the long term consequences of developing more severe mental health challenges. While it seems like a simple piece of advice, it is still a challenge for people in our society to talk openly about their true thoughts and feelings. I asked educators to imagine the effect on children if this type of behaviour of not talking and sharing true thoughts and feelings was not role modelled to them? You can only imagine how the stigma of not sharing true thoughts and feelings is perpetuated and the language around expressing ourselves is silenced. What I reminded teachers is that no life is devoid of ups and downs but we have conditioned ourselves to expect only the highs in life and to not talk about things that don't reflect that things are ok. This reminded me of a great book I read, "The How of Happiness" by Sonja Lyubomirsky which approaches the understanding of happiness through a scientific model demonstrating that happiness is something that we create, not something that is given to us. Thus, by learning to talk and share we learn the skills we need to build resilience to life's challenges creating opportunity for happiness/balance in one's life. So to summarize, be ok with the down times in life but make sure you talk about them , share your concerns to unburden yourself and realize that you are not alone in these thoughts and feelings and in the long run know that you are laying the building blocks to healthy coping strategies to being more resilient to what life throws in front of you.