SOS – Now, more than ever

Local social profit puts focus on mental health

By Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Contributor

The comedians of Stand Up for Mental Health. The third annual show takes place on September 30 at the Keyano Recital Theatre. Supplied photo

The comedians of Stand Up for Mental Health. The third annual show takes place on September 30 at the Keyano Recital Theatre. Supplied photo

Mental health is a focus in Wood Buffalo – now more than ever. We’ve seen it front and centre this week when schools opened, and we continue to see it in our community post-wildfires.

Local crisis prevention agency, Some Other Solutions (SOS) continues to be a leading voice in mental health initiatives. This month they want you to join them for two important events, World Suicide Prevention Day and Stand Up for Mental Health.

Janene Hickman, Support and Wellness Counsellor for SOS explains more.

“Some Other Solutions supports all individuals when experiencing stress, emotional distress, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts. We help empower individuals of all ages and backgrounds to find the tools and resources they need to better manage life challenges through three main program areas including Information and Referral, Child and Youth, and Health and Wellness.”

Distinct part of health and wellness, World Suicide Prevention Day is held on September 10 across the globe. This year it has a theme of connect, communicate, care.

“Approximately 4,000 people die by suicide each year in Canada and thousands more have thoughts of ending their lives. On September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, SOS will be hosting a booth at the Urban Market at the Jubilee Centre. Our goal is to raise awareness and engage our community in learning about being safe from suicide,” explains Hickman, who has been with the group for two years.

“We will have yellow awareness ribbons available and we will be releasing our new suicide awareness cards. These handy pocket cards offer easy to understand information to identify those at possible risk of suicide, and ways to help. We hope that sharing information about suicide and prevention will help decrease the stigma related to the issue and save lives.”

The third annual Stand Up for Mental Health (SMH) show will be held on September 30 at 8 p.m., at the Keyano Recital Theatre. Stand Up for Mental Health is a comedy show promoting mental wellness and “celebrating our community’s resiliency.

This year’s show will feature SMH alumni who will return to the stage to once again share a stand-up comedy act, shedding light on the subject of mental wellness and decreasing stigma related to mental illness.”

“The show was a sold out event last year. We encourage community members to get their free tickets soon at, and to enjoy a night of laughter and fun; an important part of mental wellness,” she continues. “We hope this will be an event enjoyed anyone needing a night of healing humour, especially those who are working hard to help others.”

Hickman says, requests for SOS’ services have increased as people continue to return from evacuation.
“Like many social profit agencies in our community, we are seeing an increase in needs for our community related to emotional and mental wellness,” she said.

“We understand that all members of our community have been individually impacted by the May wildfires, and requests for workshops, trainings, crisis support, and one on one sessions related to mental wellness, coping, vicarious trauma, and grief and loss have increased. Other helping agencies have reached out with requests for resources and support, and there have been many collaborative efforts to identify needs, available resources, and gaps.”

Residents seeking help can contact the confidential crisis line, 24 hours a day at 780-743-HELP.

“SOS encourages members of the community to take care of themselves: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Connect with others, be physically active, and do something each day that bring you joy. Small steps can have great impact. Take care of yourselves, and each other,” adds Hickman.

Visit for more information, or call the office at 780-743-8605.

– Connect Weekly –