CMHA wants residents to 'get real about how they feel' this week

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With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week — which officially kicked off on Monday — is especially important according to organizers.

“The fact that we’ve all been experiencing this pandemic and that COVID-19 has brought on more isolation, people feel much more vulnerable about their mental health,” said the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) executive director, Joanne Ledoux-Moshonas. “I think that a campaign such as this signifies the importance to paying attention to our mental health and reaching out when we need help.”

Although this is the 70th Mental Health Awareness Week, Monday marked the first time the CMHA Champlain East actually held a flag raising ceremony, which was attended by a handful of individuals, including Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement.

“This is a national event that is held to mobilize communities so that they can look after their mental health and well-being and to bring awareness to it,” said CMHA Champlain East mental health promoter Angele D’Alessio. “This year more than ever is an important year to acknowledge mental health awareness week.”

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This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week holds an important theme — get real about how you feel.

“We need to, whatever the reasons, good or bad, acknowledge how we feel,” said D’Alessio. “It takes a little weight off.”

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Several activities will take place during the whole week in order to shed light on mental health. These include a pre-recorded youth mental health concert which will air on YourTV Cornwall as well as on YouTube.

“Those that participate will have a chance to win a 14-karat gold necklace courtesy of Pommier Jewelers,” said D’Alessio. “We will also have a conversation taking place on Thursday on Microsoft Teams that will be open to the community.”

The English version of the conversation will be at 1 p.m. whereas the French version will take place at 2:30 p.m. Anyone wanting to take part in it can visit the CMHA Champlain East Facebook page to connect.

Clement told the few people that had assembled that she thought it important that everyone be honest when it came time to their emotions and mental health.

“When people ask me how I am, I stop and ask them if they want a real answer?” she said.

According to Ledoux-Moshonas, her organization has experienced a steep increase in the number of requests it has received since the start of the pandemic.

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“A recent study conducted by the CMHA concluded that 40 per cent of our population have noted that their mental health has been impacted as a result of the pandemic,” said Ledoux-Moshonas. “People who live with an already pre-existing mental health condition would say that it is even greater due to isolation and the lack of contact they may have with their loved ones.”

“Many people are suffering right now and it’s very important that we look out not only for ourselves, but also for our friends, co-workers and family,” added program director Michelle Gosselin. “COVID is affecting people in different ways. Everyone’s reasons for being impacted are different.”

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