Local organizations team up for Mental Health Week
By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) of Wood Buffalo is teaming up with Some Other Solutions (SOS) and Alberta Health Services (AHS) to provide a variety of events and workshops for this year’s Mental Health Week from May 2 to May 8.
“We have collaborated to reduce the stigma of mental health, and are asking the community to ‘Get Loud’,” said Fund Development and Events Coordinator of the CMHA’s Emma Murray. “Many people in our region are living with a mental illness, or are living with a family member who is… by partnering together, we are able to reach more community members and achieve our ultimate goal to continue promoting awareness for mental health.”
According to Statistics Canada, one in five adults will suffer from some type of mental health disorder in their life. Anxiety disorders and depression are listed as the most common mental illnesses. Recent statistics also indicate 70 per cent of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence, which is why the partnering local organizations are targeting the entire community to reduce the stigma and better educate everyone within it.
SOS believes everyone can benefit from information, education, and support provided by the social profits. SOS’s Events and Marketing Program Coordinator Courtney Fiander explained how their organization is happy to be a part of the week of events and they are ready to make some noise.
“We are so pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with CMHA and AHS,” Fiander said. “All of our agencies work tirelessly in the community to reduce the stigma. We have designed a full week of healthy events that our community can enjoy.”
The kick-off to Mental Health Week begins with the annual CMHA’s Charity Jam and Silent Auction event in the Miskanaw Ballroom at MacDonald Island on April 29 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Local talent, The Veins – who has played at the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games, will be headlining the Jam, along with a variety of community musicians – ranging from jazz to Acapella.
“Many people greatly enjoy, and look forward to, the annual Charity Jam and Silent Auction,” said Murray. “This is a really fun event where we promote music and art as a positive for mental health.”
For the first-time, the event is sponsored by the Alberta Teachers Association Local #48 and tickets are available for $10 each at Eventbrite.ca by searching: ATA #48 Fort McMurray presents Charity Jam and Silent Auction.
Another event – expected to be a favourite – is the Healing Through Humour: Comedy Showcase event, which takes place on May 5 at the Unifor Building (10019 MacDonald Avenue). Scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the free event will be hosted by local comedians who will share their personal struggles with mental illness in a humorous manner.
“The idea of this light approach to talking about mental health is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, let others know they are not alone, and ultimately get people talking about mental health,” Fiander explained.
The event will feature SOS’s Stand Up for Mental Health alumni Justin Shaw from the Wrath of Shaw.
“SOS is also very excited to announce that we are planning to facilitate the third annual Stand Up for Mental Health this coming fall,” she shared. (Updates can be found at www.someothersolutions.ca).
When the week wraps up, Fiander said she hopes the public will be more aware that help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We want to ensure individuals have the emotional resiliency to meet life challenges. We want the community to know that help is available to anyone, for any issue, 24 hours a day via the SOS Crisis Line at 780-743-4357,” she said.
“Too often individuals overlook the importance of taking care of their mental health. A visit to the doctor or dentist is on the to-do list, but no time is set aside to manage stresses, strengthen relationships, set healthy boundaries, or ensure a good work and life balance.”
To view the full calendar of Mental Health Week events, go online to www.woodbuffalo.cmha.ca and search the ‘News and Events’ tab.