Mental health clinic to offer more sessions on depression, anxiety
Canadian tennis star Rebecca Marino recently talked about her long-running battle with depression, as did CFL linebacker Shea Emry, in an attempt to get more people talking about the mental illness.
Both Marino and Emry are from Vancouver and ply their trade in Montreal, but mental illnesses like clinical depression are not specific to those locations.
The Airdrie Mental Health Clinic held a series of sessions on different mental health topics in January in an attempt to break the stigma attached to mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
Leslie Hereygers, one of the facilitators of the sessions, said between 20 and 40 people attended the sessions – those included Understanding Depression, Understanding Anxiety, Anxiety Reduction and Communication Styles – that were held at the Airdrie Public Library.
“It’s hard for people to talk about it and I just appreciate the group – people got comfortable (with one another),” said Hereygers, adding they were taken aback by how many people attended the January sessions. “To see people ask really insightful questions and want to learn more about it is really refreshing.”
It was the second time the Airdrie Mental Health Clinic had put these sessions on, with the first taking place just a few months prior and just a handful of people attending those.
Tara Emery, an outreach social worker for the Airdrie Mental Health Clinic, said the first few sessions were somewhat quiet but as they went on, people started asking more questions, such as how to deal with family members or speak with others about the issues, which can be particularly difficult.
“One of the big things we kept saying is you don’t have to deal with it right on that spot,” said Emery. “It’s OK to say you need more time. Sometimes it’s OK to walk away and not have all the answers… One of the biggest things that people get out of those is just hearing that other people have the same issues, feeling confident that they’re not alone.
“It was definitely difficult because every situation is different of course, so we really tried to just encourage people to take care of themselves and to take time as well.”
But the stigma attached to mental illnesses isn’t going to go away over night, even after Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Day, which raised $4.8 million for mental health programs.
Bell’s campaign asked Canadians to tweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk or share the campaign’s image on Facebook – for each share or tweet would donate $0.05 to mental health programs. In addition, they donated $0.05 for every text message or long-distance call made by Bell customers.
Emery noted that it wasn’t just people suffering from mental illnesses who came to the Airdrie sessions, concerned family and friends also attended.
“That’s what we were hoping for. Mental health still does have a lot of stigma,” said Emery. “So I think that was one of our biggest goals was to get people talking in our community.”
The Airdrie Mental Health Clinic will hold more of these sessions this spring, said Emery.
It was also suggested there should be a group for women’s health issues, and Emery said the clinic is looking into starting such a group as well.
“We’ve had really great feedback from the session and people seemed really interested to have them continue on, even people that went for the first time came for the second time,” said Emery. “So I think they still get something out of it even though they’ve already gone to them.”
Details have not yet been finalized for the spring session, but will be found on the Airdrie Public Library website at www.airdriepubliclibrary.ca