Sup­port­ing Men­tal Health

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News -

The busy weeks lead­ing up to the Christ­mas sea­son gen­er­ally keep us oc­cu­pied with re­ward­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. While the start of a new year brings re­newed hope and op­ti­mism, Jan­uary tends to move at a slower pace and of­fers lim­ited day­light hours. Many of us will ex­pe­ri­ence what is com­monly re­ferred to as the “Win­ter Blues” or “Jan­uary Blues.” This may re­quire more ef­fort to main­tain good men­tal health. A healthy diet, reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, and prac­tic­ing grat­i­tude can help us to main­tain a pos­i­tive out­look.

It is es­ti­mated that one in five Cana­di­ans will ex­pe­ri­ence men­tal health chal­lenges through­out their life­time. For those who are liv­ing with per­sis­tent con­di­tions, ap­pro­pri­ate sup­ports and ser­vices are ex­tremely im­por­tant. Too of­ten peo­ple suf­fer in si­lence, fear­ing a stigma that un­for­tu­nately views men­tal health dif­fer­ently from phys­i­cal ill­ness.

Our gov­ern­ment rec­og­nized that bet­ter men­tal health ser­vices and treat­ment were needed. In 2013, con­sul­ta­tions on how to im­prove ser­vices be­gan, cul­mi­nat­ing with the Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions Ac­tion Plan which guides the gov­ern­ment in mak­ing needed im­prove­ments.

Your Saskatchewan Party gov­ern­ment has in­creased fund­ing for men­tal health ser­vices by 60 per cent to ap­prox­i­mately $290 mil­lion an­nu­ally. This fund­ing is in ad­di­tion to the ap­prox­i­mately $46 mil­lion al­lo­cated to ad­dic­tions ser­vices each year.

Re­cently, ad­di­tional men­tal health sup­ports were in­tro­duced in Moose Jaw. In Novem­ber, a new Po­lice and Cri­sis Team (PACT) be­came op­er­a­tional. PACT pairs mem­bers of the Moose Jaw Po­lice Ser­vice with a men­tal health pro­fes­sional when re­spond­ing to in­di­vid­u­als who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a men­tal health cri­sis. The goal is to pro­vide the right kind of care to peo­ple who are bet­ter-served within the com­mu­nity, thereby avoid­ing emer­gency depart­ment vis­its or en­try into the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. Sim­i­lar units are also now in place in Saska­toon, Regina, Prince Al­bert, North Bat­tle­ford, and York­ton.

A lit­tle over a year ago, a new hous­ing com­plex – Wakamow Place II – of­fi­cially opened to in­di­vid­u­als with com­plex needs. The 12-unit fa­cil­ity is next door to Wakamow Place, where men­tal health sup­ports are avail­able if needed. Fund­ing has also been in­vested in a new train­ing pro­gram launched last month that will bet­ter equip physi­cians to as­sess and treat men­tal health con­di­tions in chil­dren and youth.

Thanks to the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion, many lo­cal busi­nesses now have Sui­cide Help Cards with in­for­ma­tion to as­sist some­one in a cri­sis. Men­tal Health First Aid Cour­ses are of­fered sev­eral times a year. Like the reg­u­lar First Aid cour­ses we are fa­mil­iar with, Men­tal Health First Aid equips in­di­vid­u­als to re­spond in a help­ful way to as­sist some­one to­wards get­ting needed, pro­fes­sional help.

It is en­cour­ag­ing to see lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions work­ing to­gether to pro­vide men­tal health ser­vices in our com­mu­nity. The Saskatchewan Health Au­thor­ity, the staff at the Dr. F. H. Wig­more Re­gional Hos­pi­tal, the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion, and Thun­der Creek Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion As­so­ci­a­tion all pro­vide sup­ports not only for treat­ment, but also pre­ven­tion of men­tal health-re­lated con­di­tions.

We can do our part by be­com­ing more in­formed on main­tain­ing our own men­tal health, know­ing the signs of when to seek help, and learn­ing how we can help oth­ers.

For men­tal health sup­port at any time of the day or night, you can pick up the phone and call Health­Line by di­al­ing 8-1-1. Health­Line’s reg­is­tered Psy­chi­atric Nurses and so­cial work­ers can of­fer ad­vice to help you man­age your sit­u­a­tion, or give you in­for­ma­tion about re­sources in the com­mu­nity.

War­ren Michel­son, MLAMLAs Col­umn War­ren Michel­son Moose Jaw North

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