Mental Health and 5 Wishes for the New Year

Kurt Pay, Director of Mental Health, Victoria Hospital

We take great pride in supporting the mental health of our community at Victoria Hospital.  We know that in any given year 20% of us will struggle with a mental health problem.  It could be anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.  It might be a mood disorder or a personality disorder.  It could be an eating disorder, a substance use disorder, or something else.  It is hard, and we wish things could be different.  In fact, as we head into 2024, here are 5 things we wish for:

  1. We wish people understood that little steps can often make a big difference in caring for their mental health. We want people to understand how connected physical and mental health are. Get enough sleep, exercise most days of the week, stay hydrated, eat a healthy diet low in ultra-processed foods, and learn and practice stress management techniques.  Make time for gratitude, connect with other humans, spend time outdoors and get enough vitamin D. It is a long list, but even small steps are valuable.
  1. We wish people would stop making judgements about mental illness.  A third of us will experience a mental illness during our lifetime.  It can happen to any of us.  Sometimes it is genetic, sometimes it is caused by environmental factors, and sometimes it is a symptom of another illness.  Stigma and judgment are never helpful.  However, talking openly about these situations, educating ourselves, reserving judgment, and showing kindness and empathy can be very helpful. We wish for everyone to be on the same page:  it is okay not to be okay.
  2. We wish people felt more comfortable supporting those who need help.  We know how challenging and overwhelming it can be to help someone having a mental health crisis.  We get it. But did you know that you can take a Mental Health First Aid course to help equip you with skills in this area?  You’ll learn about common illnesses, how to assess the risk of harm, useful communication strategies, and when and how to refer to expert help.   Courses are available in Winnipeg or on-line. Sounds like a New Year’s resolution!
  3. We wish people knew how to access help when they need it.  There are many places offering help, but it can be hard to know which is the right one, and how to connect.  We like the Shared Health Mental Health & Wellness Resource Finder (just do an internet search).  When someone is a danger to themselves or others, rely on Urgent Care or Emergency or call 911. 
  4. We wish you and your family a year full of good physical and mental health! As we enjoy the privileges and face the challenges of living life in South Winnipeg, we hope you’ll make time to care for yourself and each other. 

Happy New Year Fort Richmond!

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