Editorial: Reach out for mental health wellness

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May 4 to 10 marks Mental Health Week in Canada, coming at a time when more people than ever are suffering from anxiety, depression and substance-use issues.

From worry about one’s own physical health or the health of loved ones to stress arising from loss of income and fear of the future, COVID-19 has ramped up the triggers that can erode the mental health of even the most solid of individuals.

While it can be difficult to admit one’s mental health is suffering and to reach out for help, it is critical to break through the barrier of resistance and to seek help from qualified sources.

Knowing that COVID-19 is impacting citizens’ mental health, the federal government has created a new online portal called Wellness Together Canada. David Norget, the co-chair of the Salt Spring Health Advancement Network, has also compiled a long list of resources beyond the portal. Those range from free mental health online, video and phone-based supports through the B.C. government’s health ministry website to the Mental Health Commission’s First Aid COVID-19 Self-Care & Resilience Guide. Locally, Islanders Working Against Violence has a 24-hour violence and abuse help line, and the Vancouver Island Crisis Line is also accessible to Gulf Islanders. A complete list with links follows the online version of Norget’s opinion piece titled “Support Mental Health During Difficult Times” on the Driftwood’s website this week. 

A new local mental health fund has also just been created by a Salt Spring family affected by the tragedy of mental health struggles and suicide. The Devon James Bolton Mental Health Fund is being administered through the Salt Spring Island Foundation and is now accepting contributions. As well, the foundation is urging charitable groups to apply for money from its COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Relief Fund for activities that benefit islanders’ emotional and mental health.

“Good mental health is so critical to our well-being, and yet it is often dismissed as less urgent or deserving of our care and attention,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated on Monday in relation to Mental Health Week. “This leaves far too many to suffer in silence, fearing discrimination or stigma.”

With so many options for seeking help these days, suffering in silence does not have to be endured.

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