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May is mental health awareness month 

By Kshef Kamran, May 24 2023—

Mental health awareness month throughout the month of May is the best time to become educated on mental health and the support that exists for those who are struggling.

Mental health is the state of mind at which an individual is able to function within their environment — this can be a result of social, biological and psychological factors. Many individuals are less inclined to reach out and receive help because it also means disclosing their mental health ailments which can lead to them being scrutinized and stigmatized by the public eye. Nonetheless, there is a distinction between public stigma and self-stigma — at times individuals possess a negative connotation towards their own condition on the basis of what society recognizes as healthy and unhealthy. 

It is important to outline what standard mental health is so we can understand what we are comparing it to. Scientifically, mental health is the state in which you are able to cope with the stresses of life and function productively throughout your day-to-day activities. Internalizing mental health illnesses that plague an individual without proper treatment can contribute to the worsening of the condition. 

As for the cause of mental health illnesses, there can be a variety of reasons that can negatively affect one’s mental health — such as a highly intense or traumatic set of events like the COVID-19 pandemic. A  systematic search was conducted in the general population during the pandemic in China, Spain, Italy, Iran, the USA, Turkey, Nepal, and Denmark using data from PubMed, Embase, Medline, Web of Science and Scopus from inception using the PRISMA guidelines that demonstrated high rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological distress and stress in individuals both during and post-pandemic. 

In recent years, there has been a growing wave of teenagers and children being admitted to Emergency care in Calgary for mental health-related problems such as self-harming behaviour, depression and anxiety. Therefore, in order to be able to help those in need we have to be educated on mental health issues and any potential treatment options.

Recognition of Mental Health Related Problems 

The first step in healing and treating a mental health illness is recognizing and accepting the mental illness you are facing. Living in denial of its presence can lead one to believe they are okay when they are not and it deludes those around them. Then the question becomes what do you do after accepting? It can be easy to neglect your mental health because it is difficult to see the symptoms on a regular basis and identify them. Though, just as if you injure a muscle you have to take time off of it and place a cold pack on it. Similarly slow and steady progress with the right treatment can be a great way to help heal a mental illness. There are many forms of treatment and these can be provided in a variety of ways from the Calgary community resources including those provided at U of C’s campus. 

U of C’s Wellness Services 

The responsibilities of a student at university can be very stress-inducing with the pressure of exams, assignments, and constant studying. It can become extremely overwhelming quickly. The University of Calgary does provide Wellness Services at the main university campus. The resources that the Wellness Services provides include peer support with a trained volunteer, counselling and 24/7 after-hours emergency support it is crucial to seek help when needed and ignoring the pain of mental illnesses will only progress and lead to a more serious condition.

Exercise & Physical Activity 

One of the primary ways of combating mental disorders and illnesses can be to establish a set routine which can take the form of a work or an exercise schedule. After conducting a narrative review of various studies, compelling evidence suggests that physical activity can prevent common mental disorders such as depression or anxiety. Over the past decade, physical activity has been included in the treatment protocol for many therapeutic approaches to mental disorders. Overall, physical activity has many health benefits including mental health as it not only provides a routine but it strengthens both the body and the mind.

There are various resources throughout the Calgary community that are accessible to anyone who is experiencing the pain of a mental illness. It is crucial to note that recognizing the symptoms as they arise can lead to the implementation of a treatment plan earlier on which can help mitigate the symptoms. Furthermore, recognizing that ignoring the pain of work, school, or university can lead to a more severe mental illness is also important. Therefore, accepting a mental illness, recognizing the early onset signs of it and seeking a treatment plan is incredibly important.

Serious Emergencies 

In case of serious emergencies or if you are in any form of danger call 9-1-1. If you or someone you know is in crisis right now, call the Distress Center which is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 403-266-4357. The municipal government has arranged for programs with various partners within the community such as the Miskanawah Community Services Association, Punjabi Community Health Services Calgary Society, or Hull Services just to name a few. 

Mental health is a growing issue that is afflicting many and understanding what it is as well as the services that are present to mitigate it is crucial to either undergo or assist others through the healing process. Overall, what better time to learn about mental health and the services provided throughout the Calgary community than mental health awareness month? The information you learn can be helpful beyond this month to you or others within the Calgary community.

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