VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, and the Canadian Mental Health Association hopes the occasion will open up conversations and encourage people to seek help if they need it.

Pamela Findling with the association says mental health is just as important as physical health, and this is especially true right now.

In a survey conducted earlier this year, Findling says around seven in 10 British Columbians reported feeling worried, stressed, lonely, or sad, and that their mental health had declined during the pandemic.

“We’ve seen an increase in referrals to a lot of our services and access to our website,” she said. “We know there’s an increasing demand for mental health services and resources and support.”

The association believes there is “no health without mental health,” and this week of awareness is to remind people that mental health is part of everyone’s overall wellbeing.

“Mental illness affects all of us, whether it’s us directly, or our friends, or family, or colleagues,” she said. “And often just asking people how they’re doing that day can have a tremendous impact on people.”

Findling says one of the best ways we can support our families and friends, is listening. She adds folks often default to answering the question of how they are doing, with “fine,” even when they’re not.

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“One of the things people can do is reframe that question a little bit differently. So even something as simple as saying, ‘How are you doing today?’ changes the tone of that a little bit more.”

She says telling someone that you’ve noticed a change in their behaviour or mood, and following up with curiosity and questions might help to get someone to open up, but always respect someone’s boundaries because they may not be ready to talk.

“Some people aren’t ready to talk to yet and that’…….


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