Mental Health Week
By Gail Packwood
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) declared May 6 to 12, 2013 Mental Health Week. 1 in 5 Canadians will experience some sort of mental health issue in their lifetime and it is something that can affect people at any age or stage of their life.
Initiatives like Mental Health Week aim to help reduce the stigma that is often attached to mental health issues. This year CMHA hopes to engage people in a discussion on practical ways to maintain and improve their mental health and to support the recovery of those who are living with mental illness. Mental health is “more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being”. Finding coping strategies to deal with the pace and stresses of modern living is critical to maintaining good mental health.
Some signs that what you are dealing with may be more serious than stress are:
- Insomnia. If you can’t sleep because you cannot stop thinking or worrying.
- If you struggle with doing everyday tasks – getting dressed, showering, going to work – seem impossible.
- If you cannot “let go”. You stay angry, sad or upset about something, unable to forgive or forget the issue or situation (this could be big or small issues).
- If you can’t work. The idea of a “mental health day” but very real. You cannot get up the energy or will power to go to work.
- If you feel unattractive physically and unworthy of love, positive attention or friendships.
Often those living with a mental illness, their family and friends may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what resources and services are available and where to turn to for help. But help is available – and according to CMHA, all mental illness is treatable. Mental illness can take many forms, from anxiety disorders, depression, and schizophrenia to bipolar disorder, eating disorders and gambling addictions. Each form may require different treatment options and timelines for recovery.
Many factors may affect our ability to maintain a balance in our mental health – physical changes and illness, bereavement, loneliness and lifestyle changes like retirement, can all lead us to suffer from mental health issues like anxiety and depression. The CMHA website offers three quizzes that you can do to check on your mental health. These non-scientific tests may give you some insight to your own current situation and where your mental health might benefit from making positive lifestyle changes or different choices.
Those in Ontario can contact the Mental Health Helpline 24 hours a day for confidential, free and anonymous assistance. 1-866-531-2600 or www.MentalHealthHelpline.ca
Very often the first call for information comes from concerned friends or family of a loved one who they feel needs help. Do not be afraid to ask questions and seek advice. Treatment is available.
For more information on Mental Health Week, CMHA and to find services and resources in your area, visit http://mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca/
We need to talk more, not less about suicide
Yehudit Silverman, Montreal Gazette
MONTREAL - Every 40 seconds, a life is lost to suicide. Around the world, between 20 million and 100 million people attempt suicide every year, and more than a million succeed. At this very moment, thousands of people are contemplating taking their own life to end the torment of depression, chronic pain, anxiety or unbearable shame.
As we mark Canadian Mental Health Week this week, it’s instructive to recall that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teens, and a common cause of death among elderly people. And yet in spite of the magnitude of the problem, suicide remains entrapped in a culture of shame and taboo. As a result, it tends to be shrouded in silence. We have to end that silence.
There is a pervasive myth that talking about suicide encourages it. Media outlets have developed policies governing their coverage of suicides, based on this myth. And yet research, including my own, indicates we need to talk more, not less, about suicide. Let me explain.
A person contemplating suicide commonly feels disconnected and hopeless. One of the most important things we can do, when faced with someone who is struggling with severe depression, pain, anxiety or shame, is to ask them the question, simply and directly: “Are you contemplating suicide?”
Leading questions such as “You’re not suicidal, are you?” or “You’re not thinking of doing something crazy?” carry judgments, and signal that the questioner is reluctant to hear a truthful answer. Ending silence also involves listening openly.
Ageism is rampant in Canada
Arlene Adamson, Winnipeg Free Press
‘ANYONE over age 69 should face a firing squad" — this was just one of the many Facebook comments ridiculing the elderly cited in a recent Yale University study that reveals extensive bigotry and discrimination levelled at older adults on the popular social-networking site. Ageism, to give the offensive language a civil gloss, is a far too common occurrence on Facebook, the study found.
This may seem hard to believe for many people. After all, most of us have older people in our lives -- our grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbours or community members -- and we'd never wish them harm.
But discrimination on the basis of age is a daily occurrence for many seniors.
First, there are the systemic disadvantages -- those things not intended to discriminate, but that were never designed with seniors in mind, thus indirectly making life difficult for them. Let's face it, the world is designed for younger people, and so crosswalk and traffic lights often turn too fast, cash-register numbers are too hard to read and people are increasingly saying things far too fast and too low to understand.
If you think it's aggravating being the person in line behind a senior or waiting for a senior to exit the crosswalk, imagine how frustrating it is for seniors themselves.
But then there is outright discrimination against seniors. A recent report by Revera and the International Federation on Aging found 63 per cent of Canadians older than 66 say they have been treated unfairly on the basis of their age. More worrying still is that 79 per cent of Canadians agree that seniors over the age of 75 are seen as less important than others in society, and a full 21 per cent believe older people are a burden on our society.
We are facing a huge increase in the population of seniors across the country over the next two decades as their ranks swell. So now may be a good time to challenge ageism head-on in all our public spaces and even our virtual ones. When you think about it, aging is really a moving target -- age 65 is the new 55. This is more than a mindset, it's a reality. Many seniors today will live more than 30 years after the traditional age of retirement, and many won't retire at all. So it may be more appropriate to think of the senior years as a second adulthood, and there's no doubt that individuals going into their second adulthood today still have much to contribute to society.
What we need to do now is re-evaluate how we, as a society, think about aging and about older adults. This should be a national conversation.
To read the full article: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/ageism-is-rampant-in-canada-204436231.html
Canadians are Aging: We've Done the Math. Have you?
Wall Street Journal
Canadians Are Aging. We've Done the Math. Have you?
The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association advocates for improved access to hospice palliative care through their National Hospice Palliative Care Week Campaign
OTTAWA, May 3, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Did you know that seniors make up Canada's fastest growing age group?[i] And that currently only 16-30% of Canadians who die have access to quality hospice palliative care?[ii] For National Hospice Palliative Care Week 2013, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is asking Canadians and hospice palliative care professionals to raise their voice and encourage discussions about improving access to hospice palliative care across the country.
"In 2010, 259,000 Canadians died, yet few received hospice palliative care and bereavement services" said Sarah Walker, President of the CHPCA, "if we do not think ahead, our healthcare system will be woefully underprepared for the influx of seniors. It is time for a systemic change."
"Quality hospice palliative care offers a flexible set of services. It includes physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical support for people with life-threatening illnesses, and to their families. It focuses on what people need and want at any given time, both prior to death and during bereavement. Our population is aging, and seniors deserve proper access to these services in the setting of their choice," added Sharon Baxter, Executive Director of the CHPCA.
By 2036, seniors will make up 25% of the Canadian population,[iii] and if we do not have a functioning, integrated hospice palliative care system, even more of us will die emergency rooms. The CHPCA urges Canadians to share these statistics, whether it be with a friend or a provincial Minister of Parliament -- it is time for us to raise our voices. Fillable postcards are available for order at www.chpca.net/week
To read the full article: http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130503-912923.html
Dancers' campaign launched to improve working conditions
Nicola Merrifield, The Stage
A campaign has been set up to inform commercial dancers about their rights within the sector and to improve working conditions.
Dancers United UK, a campaigning body that has been founded by working artists in the industry, wants to put a stop to unpaid work, which is often advertised as “good exposure”, and to establish guidelines for minimum rates of pay.
The founding members also want to tackle issues such as guaranteed lunchbreaks, the availability of drinking water on sets and payment for overtime.
Reimbursement for transport costs and for dancers expected to wear their own clothing while performing also need to be looked into, according to the organisers.
For its campaign, It’s Up to Us, Dancers United UK has joined forces with union Equity to help secure better standards.
Shannelle Fergus, one of the founders of Dancers United UK, said that commercial dancers, who will appear in promotional films, at festivals, in music videos and live shows, do not have the same regulations available to them as other dancers, such as those in the West End.
She said that rates of pay have decreased “dramatically” over the past five years for commercial dancers and that if this continues it will be “detrimental” to their careers in the future.
“The fact that payment has gone to a standard that is lower than before, to possibly no payment at all in the future is potentially really detrimental to what is a career for us.
To read the full article: http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2013/05/dancers-campaign-launched-to-improve-working-conditions/
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