Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 4-10, 2020)

Life has changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic; including physical distancing, job loss, the closure of shops and services, limited or virtual classrooms, and increased social isolation due to public health mitigation restrictions.

As a society, dealing with COVID-19, climate change, economic and financial uncertainty, increasing political and social divisiveness, it’s no wonder that some may develop a profound feeling of uncertainty, anxiety and depression. Depression and anxiety are two forms of mental illness.

The Peachland Wellness Centre recognizes Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), an annual national public education campaign designed to help Canadians understand the reality, scope, and need to reduce the stigma of mental illness. The week was established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and is now coordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH).

Research indicates that 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue or illness in any given year. Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these).

Depression affects a person’s mood – the way a person feels. It impacts the way people think about themselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around them.

Signs of depression include feeling sad, worthless, hopeless, guilty, or anxious. Some feel irritable or angry. Symptoms can range from loss of motivation and energy, changed eating and sleep patterns, extreme mood swings, disturbances in thought or perception, fear, muscle tension and other physical health problems.

Hope, healing, a sense of empowerment and social connections may help an individual’s recovery from mental illness. Where we live and whether we have strong support networks (close family and friends, community support) can have an impact on our mental well-being.

Anxiety is a normal reaction to uncertainty and things that may harm us. It's important to be kind to yourself, take back control and reduce anxiety.

Take care of yourself

Eat as well as possible, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and make time for hobbies.

Stay connected with family and friends

Find ways to connect with people you care about. If you can't see someone in person, you can still reach out by phone, text, or video call. Peachland community residents can access donated tablets from the Peachland Wellness Centre to connect with their loved ones and access our virtual PWC Programs.

Help others if you can, and reach out to others if you need help

Seek out help if you feel depressed and isolated. Contact the Peachland Wellness Centre to participate (as recipient or volunteer) in our “Friendly Caller” program. During COVID-19 this program replaces our “Friendly Visitor” program, by providing recipients will weekly calls to chat and socialize with PWC staff and volunteer callers.

People who are more vulnerable to coronavirus may have to take extra precautions or isolate themselves more than others. Check on your friends and neighbours to see if they need anything, such as groceries or other household needs. This compassionate gesture will help everyone involved. Contact the Peachland Wellness Centre to organize your own grocery delivery pick-up, or to become a volunteer driver for this PWC Service.

Simple acts of kindness can make a world of difference. Whether it be a smile, being a good listener or an invitation for coffee and a chat. Come join the Peachland Wellness Centre Men’s and Ladies Coffee gatherings, to chat about topics or play cards while social distancing.

Cut back on the amount of time you spend on social media and the news

It's important to be informed, but constantly checking for updates or reading sensationalized stories can really take a toll on your mental health. Stick to trusted, verified news sources and limit yourself if social media or news stories increase your anxiety.

Explore Self-Management Strategies

Many different skills can help people manage anxiety, such as stress management and relaxation. Book an appointment with the PWC for an Energy for Wellness treatment session with a certified energy practitioner. Or come join the PWC Tai Chi or Meditation programs to help relieve stress and enhance relaxation.

Please feel free to contact PWC for more information or referral to supportive resources.

Phone 250-767-0141

Email: wellnesscentre@shaw.ca

To find more information about mental illness in Canada, and how to access help, go to the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna website: https://cmhakelowna.com/mental-health/

Consult with your family doctor or another health professional if you are living in distress and have difficulty fulfilling your social, professional, or family responsibilities.

And let’s all join together to fight the prejudice that leads to stigmatization and discrimination towards people suffering from mental illness.

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