AHS Weekly Wellness Tip: Stop Stigma, Learn More About Mental Illness

Each year, more than 500,000 Albertans visit a doctor about their mental health. Although there are many types of mental health problems, the most common ones are clinical depression and anxiety disorders.

Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 5 – 11, gives Alberta Health Services an opportunity to provide information designed to help Albertans be more aware and open to the reality of mental illness. Mental Illness Awareness Week is an annual national public campaign, coordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.

Clinical depression affects about 2 million Canadians age 20 years and older at some point in their lives. Clinical depression is more common in women and often occurs in conjunction with childbearing. Depression is often seen with other mental health problems and with physical illnesses like heart disease, stroke, and physical disabilities. About 2.5 million Canadians 20 years and older live with an anxiety disorder.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of someone with a mental illness is the first step. Mental Health First Aid Canada, which is based on the model of medical first aid, teaches people how to help someone showing signs of a mental health illness or going through a mental health crisis.

When trying to be helpful it is important to be sympathetic. By actively listening and understanding why a person is feeling the way they are, conveying that you understand their emotions and that you accept them even though they are not feeling well is the most helpful thing to do.

People who continue to show signs of mental health problems should be encouraged to seek help. A doctor, mental health therapist or addiction counselor can help address a mental health concerns.

For more information on mental health visit: www.myhealth.alberta.ca. To access programs or services related to addiction or mental health visit: www.albertahealthservices.ca.