The importance of mental health programs

Mental health is more than the absence of a mental illness. I view mental health as something that is important to our daily lives. Mental health means feeling supported by those you care about, feeling that you belong to a community, and believing that you have a purpose in this world. Mental health is something that can be promoted in our communities and schools in a wide variety of ways. I believe that policies fostering inclusion and respect are part of mental health promotion, and that mental health promotion should also involve easy access to individuals with training. Speaking to someone about your concerns or troubles can be extremely important in preventing mental illness, particularly when you can speak to someone who understands and can help.

This week is Suicide Awareness Week, which started on Sunday with World Suicide Prevention Day. This week in particular, I think it is important to think about how we can promote mental health in our communities and our schools.

I believe that thoughts of suicide are an indication of deep pain, despair or hopelessness and represent what feels like the only way to end the pain. Many people never share these feelings with anyone else, which is why preventing suicide can often be a difficult undertaking. It is important to have access to programs aimed at promoting connection, access to information and resources, as well as counselling and crisis intervention programs.

There are some important services in Edmonton for individuals in crisis who are considering suicide, and these can be useful in preventing suicide. However, it is also important to have services available to people who are in pain before they begin to have thoughts of suicide.  Young people in particular deserve to have broad access to mental health resources in schools and I plan to work hard to advocate for increased access to mental health resources for students.

If you, or someone you care about is contemplating suicide, please access the Edmonton Distress Line (780-482-4357) or other crisis services. Or find out more about how to help a loved one.