When members at the Lambton Mental Wellness Centre were tasked with building an art installation about mental health, it didn’t take long for the creative juices to start flowing.
“We gave them containers and boxes and asked them to depict what mental health and wellness means to them,” said Robyn Kopriva, program coordinator and peer support worker at the Durand Street centre, which provides education, social recreation and advocacy for those living with mental illness.
“They started building two chairs, with two people facing each other, engaged in peer support, which is what we do here at the centre… and they’re really excited for people to see it.”
The structure will be on display at the Lambton Mall May 1 to 7 during Mental Health Week, a national initiative by the Canadian Mental Health Association that encourages dialogue and engagement on all issues related to mental health.
This year CMHA is focusing on the long wait times Canadians experience accessing mental health care, Lambton-Kent CEO Alan Stevenson said in a release.
“The people we love, and the people we elect, need to hear that mental health is an essential part of health, and of health care. And we just can’t wait anymore.”
The CMHA is encouraging local businesses, organizations, churches and other community partners to ‘shine green for Mental Health Week’ by illuminating buildings and wearing green (visit www.greenformentalhealth.ca).
Across Sarnia-Lambton, many events are being held, including:
* Parents Reaching Out, hosted by Sarnia-Lambton Rebound on May 1 at Holy Trinity Catholic School at 6:30 p.m. The free workshop focuses on parenting strategies, advocacy skills, stress management and coping skills. Guest speaker is Ann Douglas, CBC radio columnist, parenting expert and author of “Parenting Through the Storm: How to handle the highs and lows and everything in between.”
The book details her own struggle, how she thought her life was falling apart with her four children struggling with some form of serious mental health and behavioural challenges.
“I was so busy worrying about my kids that I forgot to take care of myself,” said Douglas. “If I had to do it all again, I would make my own health and wellbeing a greater priority. Self-care isn’t selfish: it’s self-preservation.”
The event is free; pre-register at 519-344-2841. For more, contact Stephanie Hyde at 519-344-2841, ext. 142 or email [email protected]
* Safe Communities Sarnia-Lambton hosts a Mental Health Luncheon on Thursday, April 27 at the Royal Canadian Legion from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. For info, contact Dante Cateni at 519-312-3865. Cost is $20 (with $10 tax receipt) and proceeds to Sarnia-Lambton Rebound, Goodwill Industries EKL.
* The Lambton Kent Elementary Teachers Federation invites all teachers, parents and community members to a community forum to support student mental wellness on May 2 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Point Edward Optimist Hall.
* Grand Opening of The Hub on Friday, May 5 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Hub, 350 Indian Road South, Sarnia. Special guests and dignitaries will gather to celebrate the Hub Project, involving more than 35 community agencies and partners delivering centralized programming to youth. Event includes speeches, a Trillium Foundation presentation, free barbecue and youth-led tours.
* Do it for Sarnia returns Friday, May 5 with a block party on Davis Street, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $10 with proceeds to the Mental Health Department at Bluewater Health. Hosted by Dan Edwards and the Bluewater Health Foundation. For more info, visit www.bwhf.ca or call 519-464-4439.
FACTS ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS
In any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem
By the time Canadians reach age 40, one in two have, or have had, a mental illness
Nearly 4,000 Canadians die by suicide each year — an average of almost 11 suicides a day. It affects people of all ages and backgrounds.
The economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated at $51 billion per year.
34% of Ontario high school students indicate a moderate-to-serious level of psychological distress.
Wait times for counselling and therapy can be long, especially for children and youth. In Ontario, wait times of six months to one year are common.
Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health