Community Matters: December 2022
Note: This is excerpted from the December 2022 edition of our Community Matters publication.
Welcome to the fourth issue of our new quarterly publication, Community Matters.
Community Matters aims to inform the community about social issues that impact citizens and connect the dots between social issues, evidence, and policy. We aim to use this space to give a voice to local agencies, ESPC volunteer writers, and staff members alike.
Each edition will spotlight a specific social issue and demonstrate the intersectional nature and impact on equality. Our goal is to use evidence as we continue to inform on the issues affecting individuals and families.
For our Winter 2022 issue, we are focusing on mental health and wellness. Just as the health and well-being of our physical bodies are important and in need of being taken care of, the same extends to our minds. Mental health exists on a spectrum, which can range from thriving to being in crisis. Just as we need to take care of our bodies with rest, medicine, fluids and medical care when we are not feeling well, we should also take care of our minds when a toll is taken on our mental health.
Stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness is strong. There is a reluctance in many circles to acknowledge it let alone talk about it. Nevertheless, in recent years great strides have been made in working towards breaking these stigmas. Awareness of mental health issues is strong and with that, we are creating more spaces where we can be open and honest about our mental health in ways that would have been considered unthinkable even 10 years ago.
Despite this progress, challenges to meaningfully address mental health persist. Barriers to accessing mental health services—such as a therapist—are still in place, whether it is affordability, long wait times, shortages of mental health professionals, or others.
Mental health affects people in different ways. Whether you are an older adult, a post-secondary student, a racialized person, a newcomer, a child/youth, 2SLGBTQ+, and/or other demographic, mental health and the ways to address it will differ. This will also be impacted by circumstance whether from chronic stress, a major life change such as losing a job, home, or a loved one as well as the number of supports a person has in their lives. A comprehensive mental health system should take into account our diverse population, its needs and challenges.
For this issue, we will delve in the ways mental health touches upon various demographics and offer ways in which we can work towards meaningfully addressing it.
In the meantime, take care of yourself, your loved ones, and the wider community. Check in on others, especially those you may not have heard from in a while. Reaching out to let someone know that they matter, and you are thinking of them is beneficial for everyone’s general mental health!
– Susan Morrissey, Executive Director