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THE AMAZING BRAIN SCIENCE OF THANKSGIVING!
It’s Thanksgiving Day... a perfect time to share what UCLA neuroscientist, and our Community Mental Health Summit speaker, Dr. Alex Korb, says in Psychology Today is “the one Turkey Day tradition that has the power to reshape your neural pathways."
"No, it’s not the turkey increasing your serotonin, nor the apple pie giving you a burst of dopamine,” says Korb, author of ‘The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.' These are caused by “the giving of thanks, also known as gratitude,” which if practiced regularly, can help you sleep better, exercise more, and be happier and healthier.
One study by Emmons and McCulollough in 2003 had young adults keep daily journals of things they were grateful for. Other groups journaled about things that annoyed them, or reasons why they were better off than others. The subjects focused on gratitude showed greater increases in attention, enthusiasm, energy, and determination than the others.
Korb reports that the same researchers conducted a separate study on adults, which showed that even a weekly gratitude journal was beneficial. “Subjects assigned to journal weekly on gratitude showed greater improvements in optimism, which makes sense. But that’s not all; it also influenced their behaviors. Keeping a gratitude journal also caused greater improvements in exercise patterns. Lastly, it also caused a reduction in physical ailments, so these subjects had fewer aches and pains.”
Studies of the brain have shown that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. “This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels. From this evidence on brain activity it starts to become clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects.”
“Furthermore,” Korb explains, “feelings of gratitude directly activate brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine feels good to get, which is why it’s generally considered the “reward” neurotransmitter. But dopamine is also almost important in initiating action. That means increases in dopamine make you more likely to do the thing you just did.” It’s the brain saying, “Oh, do that again.”
Gratitude can have such a powerful impact on your life “because it engages your brain in a virtuous cycle. Your brain only has so much power to focus its attention. It cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli. It is like a small child: easily distracted. Oh, your tummy hurts? Here’s a lollipop. So, you lost your job? Isn’t it wonderful we’re having KFC for dinner?”
Korb continues, “On top of that your brain loves to fall for the confirmation bias, that is it looks for things that prove what it already believes to be true. And the dopamine reinforces that as well. So, once you start seeing things to be grateful for, your brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for. That’s how the virtuous cycle gets created.”
He adds that, “It’s not always easy to remember to be grateful, particularly since the human brain is so adaptable. We easily get used to whatever comforts are around us. When was the last time you turned the key in your car’s ignition and praised the miracles of the internal combustion engine? In disasters, like Hurricane Sandy for example, we can come to see that we shouldn’t take things like running water and electricity for granted. But how long does that feeling last for?
Within a few days you’re back to cursing when the elevator takes 30 seconds to get to your floor.”
Like any other skill, being grateful takes practice and dedication. “Thanksgiving Day is a good time to start,” says Korb, “but if you want to reap all the benefits, keep practicing after that. Try thinking of one thing every day that you’re grateful for,” keep a gratitude journal, send a thank you note to someone special, and pray or meditate daily.
“I’m practicing it, too. While my wrists hurt and my eyes are strained from sitting at my computer too long, I am grateful for all the researchers who made this article possible. I am grateful for my Macbook Air for not weighing me down. And I am grateful to you for reading all the way to the end.”
Join us at our Community Mental Health Summit in Kelowna May 12-14," where Korb will speak about APPLIED POSITIVE NEUROSCIENCE: Rewiring Your Brain to Overcome Depression & Anxiety.
GUY FELICELLA: FROM ADDICTION TO ADVOCACY
This is a substance-use story with a happy ending… one that is informing and inspiring recovery policies and practices throughout B.C.
Guy Felicella fell into substance use at an early age, despite growing up in a middle-class home in Richmond, B.C. For 30 years he cycled through various addictions, gangs, treatments, and jails. Overdoses nearly took his life six times.
But today Guy is sober, and has been for many years. He is happily married with two young children and thrives on his work as a recovery advocate with the Ministry of Mental Health & Addiction, Vancouver Coastal Health, and the B.C. Center on Substance Use.
HELP THROUGH "HARM REDUCTION"
Guy attributes his recovery and advocacy to “harm-reduction” approaches that were available when he began the process of healing. Harm reduction (HR) is designed to meet people with substance-use issues where they’re at, by offering a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence.
He explains that, ironically, “HR is easily available for people with physical challenges such as allergies or diabetes. No one thinks twice about the need for an EpiPen or regular doses of insulin.”
Why, then, is HR for substance use such a conceptual hurdle for some people, especially when four British Columbians die every day from drug overdoses? Some opponents argue that HR simply enables further drug use. Others balk because they don’t want to bankroll bad behaviour.
Despite these kinds of objections, BC first adopted HR in 1959 with the introduction of methadone treatment for brief detoxification. The province’s first needle exchange program was introduced in 1989, and North America’s first officially sanctioned and supervised consumption site opened in Vancouver’s downtown east side in 2003. Today, there are more than 30 of those sites across BC.
“You can’t save a dead substance user,” says Guy, who strongly supports safe consumption sites and evidence-based, opioid-assisted withdrawal therapies. He explains that “harm reduction offers a gateway to treatment,” and hopes that it will “someday become socially acceptable.”
“We are often quick to judge or dismiss someone with an addiction,” he says, “even though it’s a disease that knows no age, race, culture, or gender.” To help, Guy encourages us to “challenge our stigmas” by learning about addiction and being compassionate with people with substance-use issues.
Learn more from Guy at our HEADS UP! Community Mental Health Summit May 12-14, 2020 in Kelowna, B.C., where he will talk about ‘SUBSTANCE USE RECOVERY: Harnessing Multiple Models and Sectors.’ For more info about the Summit program as it unfolds, visit www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
INTERLOCKING PIECES OF THE MENTAL HEALTH PUZZLE
What is MENTAL HEALTH?
As defined by the World Health Organization, “mental health” is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is a state of well-being where you realize your potential, cope with normal stresses of life, work creatively and productively, and contribute to community well-being.
Key factors influencing your mental health are emotional resources (e.g., optimism, resilience, self-esteem, self-regulation), cognitive resources (e.g., experience, wisdom), relationships and social skills, and having meaning and purpose.
@Mentalhealth.gov states that, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
Ways to maintain positive mental health include:
- Getting professional help if you need it
- Connecting with and helping others
- Staying positive
- Being physically active
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating well
- Developing coping skills (e.g., mindfulness, meditation, prayer)
What is MENTAL ILLNESS?
"Mental illness," on the other hand, refers to a wide range of disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. The DSM-5, created by the American Psychiatric Association to guide diagnoses of almost 300 mental illnesses, includes information about various subsets of disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, neuro-developmental disorders, and addictive behaviors.
Many factors contribute to mental health challenges, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Dramatic events (e.g., death of a loved one)
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Having no sex drive
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Feeling excessively angry, hostile, or violent
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
Symptoms can also appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained discomfort.
WHEN TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR?
If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your primary care provider or a mental health professional promptly.
To determine a diagnosis and check for related complications, your physician may conduct a physical exam and lab tests. He/she may also order a psychological evaluation to identify your symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and behaviour @patterns.
Once a diagnosis is made, your treatment team may include one or more of the following:
- Family or primary care doctor
- Nurse practitioner
- Physician assistant
- Psychiatrist, a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats mental illnesses
- Psychotherapist, such as a psychologist or a licensed counselor
- Social worker
- Family members
Mental health problems are common, and can often be treated successfully with lifestyle changes, medication, and/or therapy.
For more info visit www.cmha.ca or join us at our HEADS UP! Community Mental Health Summit next May in Kelowna, BC..
JOURNEY HOME: Multiple Benefits, Including Community Mental Health
More than 2,000 people experience homelessness in Kelowna every year. Some can’t pay rent, others have lost jobs, and still others simply can’t find housing.
Another major factor is mental illness. People with mental health challenges are more likely to be homeless and stay homeless longer. Conversely, research shows that improving and maintaining housing for people with mental illnesses can reduce psychiatric symptoms, thereby decreasing the need for emergency and treatment services.
This will be just one of the many positive outcomes of Kelowna’s Journey Home Strategy, which was created to ensure that “everyone has a place to call home.” Stated indicators of success include ending chronic and episodic homelessness, introducing measures to prevent homelessness in the first place, and implementing an integrated and accessible system of care. Journey Home supports the City of Kelowna’s Healthy Housing Strategy adopted in 2018 to address council’s top priorities of homelessness and housing diversity. https://www.kelowna.ca/our-community/addressing-homelessness/journey-home
Intended to help more than 2,100 people over the next five years who will lose (or are at risk of losing) their homes, Journey Home reflects the collective insights, ideas, and passions of multiple organizations, task-force members, citizens, and people who have experienced homelessness.
The robust public engagement process that informed and inspired the strategy included more than 2,000 points of contact through community summits, design labs, youth focus groups, a public survey, and a ‘lived experience circle’ that gave voice to people who are or have been homeless.
The resulting collective values set the stage for a project that is rooted in and driven by lived experience, reconciliation, innovation, compassion, choice, equity, collective action, inclusion, courage, integrity, dignity, honesty, transparency, and resilience. These values are grounded in the strategy’s three foundational concepts of Innovation, Reconciliation, and Lived Experience, which are woven into every aspect of the strategy.
In turn, the concepts are reflected in the three primary pillars of action: Inclusion & Prevention, Backbone Coordination & Partnerships, and Housing & Supports. Of the 35 actions included in the Journey Home Implementation Plan, ten have emerged as priorities for the next five years. https://www.kelowna.ca/sites/files/1/docs/community/Journey-Home/journeyhome_communityreport_web.pdf
A transition team is currently establishing a backbone organization to lead implementation efforts, which have a $47-million price tag for housing, administration, programs, and services.
While the social impacts of Journey Home are obvious, the financial benefits are significant as well. The cost of maintaining the status quo would be about $100 million, or double the investment required by the strategy over the next five years.
For more information about homelessness and housing, join us at our Community Mental Health Summit in Kelowna May 12-14. www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
WHY THE “Y” CARES ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH!
The YMCA of Okanagan believes mental health challenges shouldn’t get in the way of you doing what you love. To that end, it offers a variety of mental health programs designed to help people of all ages. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s available in Kelowna. https://www.ymcaokanagan.ca/Programs/Categories/Health-Fitness/Health-Management/Mental-Health
TEEN MINDFULNESS GROUP
This 6-week Y Mind program helps teens from 13-17 who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety to learn and practice healthy coping strategies. Groups provide an opportunity for teens to learn within a safe, comfortable, and fun environment, surrounded by other teens experiencing similar thoughts and feelings. Program facilitators are mental health practitioners skilled at teaching evidence-based approaches of Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (a Cognitive/Behavioural approach).
YOUTH MINDFULNESS GROUP
This free 7-week psycho-educational support group is for young adults ages 18-30 who experience anxiety. Participants learn healthy coping skills, connect with other youth in the community, and get support all in a safe and friendly environment. The program is overseen by mental health practitioners and is part of the Y Mind initiative.
Did you know that regular physical activity can be as effective as medication or cognitive therapy for improving mental health and effectively treating depression and anxiety? in partnership with organizations across BC, the Y has developed Mind Fit, an 8-week physical and mental wellness program for teens aged 13-19 experiencing mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety. The program is designed to help teens incorporate physical activity into their mental wellness plans.
All ages and skill levels welcome! This class provides an opportunity to meditate in a group while building community. We’ll explore different meditation techniques to gain peace of mind, while confidently expanding capacity to embrace life’s challenges and relate to others. Join us if you are ready to develop a more positive and expansive view on life!
‘UPSTREAM’ OPPORTUNITIES FOR MENTALLY HEALTHY COMMUNITIES
There is a famous story about the vital work of health promotion and disease/injury prevention.
It concerns a village by the side of a river where growing numbers of people are seen floating downstream, struggling and drowning. The villagers, being compassionate and humane, organize a complex and sophisticated rescue and treatment response. But they’re all so busy, no-one has the time to go upstream and see who is pushing them in, or to stop them from doing so!
As explained by Dr. Trevor Hancock, a public health and social policy scholar from UVic, this story represents the widespread assessment needed in BC’s mental health care system. “Before we look at how to manage the downstream mental health care system we’ve created (or failed to create) to address our growing mental health and addictions crises, we must look upstream to understand what is contributing to the crisis in the first place, and how we can change that.”
This requires that we answer the following questions:
- What is the level of mental health and addictions problems in BC, and how is it changing?
- What is happening upstream to create the high burden of mental health problems?
- How do we create more mentally healthy communities?
So, at the HEADS UP! Community Mental Health Summit in Kelowna May 12-14 we’ll first explore the ‘upstream’ challenges we face as a society, and what we might do to reduce the burden of mental health and addiction problems to create more mentally healthy communities. Don’t miss Dr. Hancock’s keynote presentation entitled, ‘UPSTREAM’ CHALLENGES: What is causing the high burden of mental health and addiction problems?’
Then we’ll look at better ways to meet the needs of those with mental health and addiction problems though the downstream healthcare and social services systems. Dr. Hancock’s second keynote is entitled, ‘UPSTREAM OPPORTUNITIES: How can we build more mentally healthy communities?'
Both keynotes are scheduled for Tuesday, May 12 and will be followed by a panel discussion with representatives from government, business, academia, nonprofits, and philanthropy. They will answer the question, "How can your sector best help to build more mentally healthy communities?"
Stay tuned for more info about the evening session entitled MOBILIZING SYSTEM CHANGE at www.freshoutlookfoundation.org.
HEALTHY FAT HIDDEN IN DIRT MAY FEND OFF ANXIETY!
As reported in Neuroscience News, an anti-inflammatory fat found in dirt by University of Colorado/Boulder scientists could a bring microbe-based “stress vaccine” one step closer to reality. https://neurosciencenews.com/dirt-fat-anxiety-14108/
This comes 30 years after the term “hygiene hypothesis” was coined by British scientist David Strachan, who suggested that our modern, sterile world and lack of exposure to microorganisms in childhood was leading to impaired immune systems and higher rates of allergies and asthma.
Researchers have since refined his theory, suggesting that increased exposure to beneficial soil-dwelling microorganisms could benefit mental health and overall well-being.
“The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities,” explains lead researcher and integrative physiology professor Christopher Lowry. “We have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation. That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders.”
For the most recent study, Lowry and his team identified, isolated, and chemically synthesized a fatty acid, called 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid, found in Mycobacterium vaccae. Next-generation sequencing techniques were then used to study how it interacted with macrophages, or immune cells, when the cells were stimulated. Outcomes showed that inflammation in the cells was inhibited, and that cells treated with the fatty acid before stimulation were more resistant to inflammation when stimulated.
Lowry has long envisioned developing a stress vaccine that could be given to first responders, soldiers and others in high-stress jobs to prevent the psychological impacts of stress. And if further studies show the fat alone has therapeutic effects, that molecule could become a target for drug development.
For more fascinating info about mental health, join us at our Summit May 12-14 in Kelowna. www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
DANDELIONS: FROM WEEDS TO WELLNESS TOOLS!
Enjoying even a smidge of nature will boost your general happiness, says University of British Columbia (UBC) researcher Holli-Anne Passmore.
A PhD psychology student at UBC’s Okanagan campus, Passmore tested 395 people in three groups over a two-week period. One group was asked to document how the nature they encountered in their daily routine made them feel. They photographed objects that caught their attention (e.g., a houseplant, cloud, dandelion growing in a crack in the driveway) and wrote about how they felt in response to each object. The second group tracked their responses to man-made objects, while the third control group did neither.
“The difference in participants’ well-being—their happiness, sense of elevation, and their level of connectedness to other people, not just nature—was significantly higher than participants in the group noticing how human-built objects made them feel and the control group,” says Passmore.
She was “overwhelmed” by participants’ responses and the impact nearby nature had on their personal well-being. “This wasn’t about spending hours outdoors or going for long walks in the wilderness,” she says. “This is about the tree at a bus stop in the middle of a city and the positive effect that one tree can have on people.”
Passmore’s research, recently published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Learn more about the link between nature and happiness May 12-14 in Kelowna at our HEADS UP! Community Mental Health Summit. www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
E-MENTAL HEALTH: A Solution to Long Waits for Care?
As defined by the Mental Health Commission of Canada Commission de la santé mentale du Canada in its 'Toolkit for e-Mental Health Implementation', “the term e-mental health refers to the use of the internet and other electronic communication technologies to deliver mental health information and care. E-mental health services are an effective and complementary option to traditional face-to-face mental health support.”
This technologoy is evolving rapidly, and is extolled for its potential to extend reach, increase access, and improve quality of care. It can include instant messaging and video-based counselling services (also known as telehealth or telepsychiatry), consumer information portals, online support groups, forums and social networks, mobile phone applications, online assessments or diagnostic tools, blogs and podcasts, therapeutic gaming programs, robotic simulation, and virtual reality systems.
While Canadians seem keen on these kinds of solutions for easier health care access, they aren’t as widespread as they could be, especially for mental health.
The Toolkit states that, “Provincial and territorial jurisdictions have improved e-health resources for health providers. But mental health care practitioners continue to identify common barriers around the provision of e-mental health, including:
- procedural and administrative hurdles
- demanding workloads for clinicians
- patient concerns regarding privacy of personal data
- lack of evidence surrounding cost effectiveness
- lack of leadership
- lack of e-mental health legislation or regulation
- lack of interoperability in connecting with current health system
“Overcoming these barriers is a challenge for financially strained mental health care systems that face increasing demand and an aging clinical workforce.”
To learn more about surmounting these obstacles and building a successful e-Mental health program, visit https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/sites/default/files/2018-09/E_Mental_Health_Implementation_Toolkit_2018_eng.pdf
And join us at our Mental Health Summit May 12-14 in Kelowna for a session entitled, TECHNOLOGY: The Best & Worst of Cyber Tools. www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
LONELINESS: ‘Planting’ the Seed of Social Inclusion
Imagine this… an RX from your GP recommends you take two spider plants and call her in the morning!
You visited your doctor complaining of loneliness… of feeling isolated from your grown children and friends who are increasingly frail and less mobile. You’ve lost your appetite and you’re not sleeping well. You expect a prescription or maybe a referral, but instead she talks about the healing powers of plants and how they can help foster happiness while you foster them! Hard to believe?
We know that houseplants increase oxygen levels and purify air. Recent research shows they can also relieve stress, encourage creativity, and boost healing. Hence, why the Cornbrook Medical Practice in Manchester, England is giving patients herbs, vegetables, and potted plants to help relieve anxiety, depression, and loneliness. As the plants mature, patients transfer them to the clinic’s communal garden. The idea is that the patients will then continue with gardening and engage in other social activities.
The clinic reports that, “having something to care for brings so many benefits to people,” especially those who do not have gardens or pets. “The plant is then a reason to come back to the surgery and get involved in all the other activities in our garden and make new friends.”
Backed by the city’s health commissioners, this project is the first of its kind in England.
For more on the links between nature and mental health join as at our Community Mental Health Summit May 12-14 in Kelowna. www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
THANKFUL FOR ‘ROOTS OF HOPE’ ON WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, so we thought it appropriate to share info about the five-year Roots of Hope suicide prevention project recently launched by the Mental Health Commission of Canada Commission de la santé mentale du Canada (MHCC).
Each year, 4,000 people in Canada take their own lives… that’s 11 every day! Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth age 15-34. And up to 135 people are affected by one suicide loss, between 15 and 30 people severely.
The Roots of Hope model provides structure around which individual communities can tailor suicide prevention efforts to meet their unique needs. To date, eight communities have developed and implemented strategies and activities in each of the five pillars, including:
- Specialized supports (e.g., peer support, workplace interventions)
- Training and networks (e.g., for healthcare providers, physicians, teachers)
- Public awareness campaigns (e.g., brochures, social media, and collaboration with media)
- Means safety (e.g., building barriers on bridges known for suicide attempts)
- Research (e.g., monitoring and evaluating the project)
Data gathered from the partner communities will funnel back to the project’s principal investigator, Dr. Brian Mishara, who will evaluate the program’s effectiveness. By the conclusion of the five-year project, guidelines and tools will be available to support any community wishing to engage in a similar effort.
CMHC president and CEO says, "The concept of Roots of Hope is one of strength and community spirit — the best way to conquer the stigma and shame that have shadowed suicide for far too long. The investments made by the participating provinces, and the supporting federal dollars, send the message that suicide prevention is no longer an item at the bottom of the collective agenda.”
For more information about suicide and prevention, join us at the STRAIGHT UP! Talk About Suicide & Prevention event November 21st in Lake Country. www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
FOF WELCOMES ‘TEAM BROUGHTON’ TO MENTAL HEALTH SUMMIT
Tor Broughton and his family are passionately committed to building awareness about transgender issues in the Okanagan and beyond.
Tor is a 14-year-old transgender boy who believes that by telling his story he will make it easier for other transgender individuals to express themselves. His accomplishments include speaking to students and educators, walking with politicians in pride parades, and thanking Prime Minister Trudeau at a town hall meeting in Kelowna for passing Bill C16, which embeds transgender rights in the Canadian Constitution.
Although his speaking out has triggered online bigotry, Tor continues to share his message of openness and acceptance. He says the haters have not only deepened his determination to build awareness, they have also strengthened his bond with mom and dad (Carrie and Wayne) and his brother Casey. He says, “it’s team Broughton all the way!”
Equally committed to bridging the knowledge gap, Carrie founded TransParent Okanagan in 2016 with funding support from TransCare BC. https://www.facebook.com/transparentokanagan/
An important goal is education about how to best communicate with and about people in the transgender community. “Etiquette is important,” says Carrie. “It goes to the heart of being respectful and inclusive.”
Carrie and Tor suggest that if you want to be a good ally for transgender people, you should check out ‘Tips for Allies’ on the GLAAD website at https://www.glaad.org/transgender/allies
Tor and Carrie will share further insights and ideas at our Community Mental Health Summit May 12-14, 2020 in Kelowna. www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
MENTAL HEALTH NOT PLAYING OUT FOR MANY MUSICIANS!
Menno Versteeg, a 20-year veteran of the music industry who now works with Toronto-based Rocky Mountain Records (RMR), saw a therapist for the first time a few years ago. He had long bought into the belief that artists must suffer in silence to be optimally creative… mental health be damned!
After years of addiction, anxiety, and the resulting bad behaviours, Versteeg decided to get help. But with his meagre pay as a touring musician he couldn’t afford treatment. Then his wife, Annie Murphy, landed a role on the CBC series Schitt’s Creek and Versteeg finally had the means to seek support. The results were miraculous; he says, “This stuff actually works!”
So, he started exploring ways to help other struggling musicians. And, according to a recent study conducted by the East Coast Music Association (ECMA), there are many!
Of the 50 Atlantic Canada musicians surveyed, 40 percent said they had been diagnosed with a mental-health disorder at some point in their life, 26 per cent had attempted suicide, and more than half said they live below the poverty line. The link between poverty and mental health challenges is well known.
In response, Versteeg vowed that when RMR finally turned a profit, the company would set an industry example by helping its more than 25 artists get the help they need. “You go to the doctor to get a checkup for your body,” he explains. “Why getting a checkup for your head isn’t seen as just as important blows my mind.”
RMR’s new fund gives each artist access to $1,500 per year for mental health services. Versteeg knows that’s not much money, but it’s a start, and he looks forward to seeing the program grow.
For info about how other businesses are mobilizing workplace mental health, join us at the Community Mental Health Summit in Kelowna, BC May 12-14. www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
HELLO I WANT TO DIE PLEASE FIX ME
During a Summit keynote for a session entitled MOBILIZING SYSTEMIC CHANGE, award-winning journalist and author Anna Mehler Paperny will share her experience with mental illness and the systemic change needed to help others affected by serious depression and suicidality.
And according to acclaimed American War author Omar El Akkad, it’s a story you won’t want to miss! “Anna’s the best journalist I know. Her story about the mental healthcare system as seen through her own experiences is an act of monumental bravery.”
After a suicide attempt in her early twenties, Anna resolved to put her reporter's skills to use to get to know her “enemy,” setting off on a journey to understand her condition, the dizzying array of medical treatments on offer, and a medical profession also in search of answers.
To that end, she interviewed fellow depression sufferers, leading medical experts across Canada and the U.S. (from family practitioners to psychiatrists to neurologists to brain-mapping pioneers), and others dabbling in strange hypotheses.
The resulting book, Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me, charts the way depression wrecks so many lives. It also maps competing schools of therapy, pharmacology, cutting-edge medicine, the pill-popping pitfalls of long-term treatment, the glaring unknowns, and the institutional shortcomings faced by both patients and practitioners.
Both funny and serious as she shares her equally heartwarming and heart wrenching story, Anna will track her quest for knowledge and the myriad ways we treat (and fail to treat) the disease that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.
For more info visit https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/authors/2145085/anna-mehler-paperny
WHY THE BUZZ? Because cross pollination is key.
“The buzz” is the sound of genuine human engagement. All FOF events are designed to encourage cross-pollination of insights and ideas through robust conversations among participants. At large events such as our Building SustainABLE Communities (BSC) conferences, that buzz in the room — what sounds like total chaos — actually echoes the hum of communal reflection. An outward coming together of participants’ inward thoughts and passions.
At FOF, our passion is building a buzz that instigates communication and inspires collaboration among people invested in more sustainable communities. In this case, the buzz will centre around mental health and how it can enhance communities’ social, cultural, environmental, and economic well-being.
To that end, we envision a gathering where people from all walks of life – with diverse insights, ideas, passions, personalities, and influences – explore mental health challenges, successes, and opportunities from a holistic perspective with a focus on collaborative action.
Using proven program design strategies from its seven highly acclaimed BSC conferences, we will incorporate activities that inform and inspire people from all sectors, ages, cultures, and genders about mental health at the individual, family, workplace, and community scales.
Please join us May 12-14 in Kelowna, BC. Stay tuned for program and registration details! www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
WHY CLIMB THE SUMMIT? Because Numbers Don’t Lie
Not surprisingly, research shows that our communities are increasingly impacted by mental health issues and their effects on citizens where they live, work, learn, and/or play. In fact, the statistics are staggering!
At least half of Canadians over 40 have experienced or will develop a mental illness. About 800,000 British Columbians currently struggle with mental health challenges or addictions. And more than 85,000 children and youth in BC have been diagnosed with mental disorders, with only one third of them getting the treatment they need.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada Commission de la santé mentale du Canada (MHCC) reports that, if nothing changes to address these crises, there will be almost 9 million people living with mental illness by 2040.
And what about the numbers from an economic perspective? The financial burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated at more than $55 billion per year. In any given week, at least 500,000 Canadians are unable to work because of mental health challenges. Astonishingly, MHCC estimates that the cost of mental illness will grow more than six times over the next thirty years to a whopping $306 billion.
In short, the challenges are real and systemic change is needed now. https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/resources/mhcc-reports/mental-health-strategy-canada
Be part of the solution by sharing your insights and ideas at the Community Mental Health Summit May 12-14 in Kelowna. Stay tuned for program and registration details!
BUILDING A CULTURE OF MENTAL HEALTH
The word “culture” means different things to different people at different times in their lives. It could represent your ethnic identity, your social beliefs and behaviours, your workplace environment, or your obsession with the arts.
Understanding culture is key to good mental health, as it affects all aspects of your life at home, work and play. Join us at our Mental Health Summit May 12-14 in Kelowna to learn about the importance of culture from a variety of perspectives.
- The Influence of Cultural Norms & Labels on Mental Illness/Health
- The Impact of Organizational Culture on Mental Illness/Health
- The Role of Arts & Culture on Mental Illness/Health
- Diverse Cultural Worldviews of Mental Illness/Health
Sign up for regular program updates at www.freshoutlookfoundation.org or www.twitter.com/freshoutlook
ENTREPRENEURS’ MENTAL HEALTH IS “A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE”
The Canadian Mental Health Association, CMHA National / ACSM National, and the BDC - Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) recently co-released a report showing that entrepreneurs are facing notable mental health challenges.
Entitled 'Going it Alone: The mental health and well-being of Canada’s entrepreneurs,’ the report states that:
- Nearly half of those surveyed say mental health issues interfere with their ability to work
- Almost two thirds feel depressed at least once a week
- More than one-third are stressed about adequately fulfilling their responsibilities at work and at home.
While almost 98 percent of Canada’s 1.2 million enterprises are classed as small or medium-sized businesses, the study concludes that little is known about the mental health impacts of being a businessperson and, therefore, “the health and well-being of entrepreneurs is a critical public health issue.”
Interim CMHA CEO, Fardous Hosseiny, says he wants the report to “start an open conversation and shift the popular view of entrepreneurs from ‘tireless innovator’ or ‘lone visionary’ to one that allows them to show their vulnerability and ask for help when needed. There needs to be more discussion about entrepreneur mental health and more attention paid to it by entrepreneur networks and organizations.”
For the full report and its recommendations visit https://cmha.ca/documents/entrepreneurs-mental-health
For more info about Workplace Mental Health join us at the Community Mental Health Summit in Kelowna May 12-14, 2020. www.freshoutlookfoundation.org
CONNECTING BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT!
As official ‘Connectors,’ Kasia and her amazing team at Oxygen Yoga & Fitness Kelowna will host a warm-up event in October to build awareness about the link between mind, body and spirit, and to raise money for our Mental Health Summit in Kelowna May 12-14, 2020.
The event will feature a presentation along with yoga/fitness classes, of which Kasia offers many. These include buti yoga, total body conditioning, fusion yoga and pilates, and deep stretch and relaxation… to name just a few!
All yoga classes are held in a studio with a FAR Infrared system that raises your body’s core temperature in a natural, comfortable way without blowing dry air or humidity. The benefits of this state-of-the-art technology include detoxification, weight loss, pain relief, and skin purification.
Stay tuned for more info about date and time!
Want to host a Summit Connector event of your own? Contact Jo at 250-300-8797.
KAIROS BLANKET EXERCISE AT SUMMIT CELEBRATES CANADIANS’ SHARED HISTORY
A Blanket Exercise, presented by KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, engages Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to build awareness about their shared history. https://www.kairosblanketexercise.org/
KAIROS is contributing to a movement for reconciliation across the country. Reflecting major findings of the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, KAIROS literally walks participants through pre-contact, treat-making, colonization, and resistance scenarios.
Participants are drawn into their roles by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcomes. By engaging on intellectual and emotional levels, KAIROS touches both mind and heart… educating while building empathy.
KAIROS is one of three kick-off events at our Mental Health Summit the morning of May 12, 2020; it is available for paid delegates only. The other two events are free to the public and include Mental Health 101 (to build awareness about mental health issues, challenges, and opportunities) and a Mindfulness Workshop.
Stay tuned for more info at www.freshoutlookfoundation.org