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Get real about mental health

Honest reflection
By Dr. Rhonda Collins

One of the important lessons from this past year is that we cannot take our mental health for granted. Living through this pandemic has been stressful for many of us. As we grapple with the physical symptoms and health risks of COVID-19, we also can’t forget about the mental toll this pandemic is taking and we must take steps to address our mental health honestly and with compassion.

The 70th annual CMHA Mental Health Week runs May 3 – 9, 2021 with the theme of “Get Real.” The first step to getting the support we need is to recognize there is a problem. Too often we conceal the symptoms of our mental health. Many of us are hardwired to say “I’m fine” when asked how we’re doing, whether it’s true or not. Talking honestly about our feelings is so important, and when we open up, we can often find ourselves less burdened by the things that have been bothering us. That’s why the theme of this year’s campaign is significant as it encourages us to put our feelings into words and not hide behind our knee jerk “I’m fine” responses.

“You are deserving of self-care and there are people who will help you.”

As Revera’s Chief Medical Officer, I’m acutely aware of the stress our teams have been under during the pandemic. We have been non-stop, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week preparing and responding to the latest mandates as we learned more about this virus. I’m grateful Revera recognizes the significant impact the pandemic has had on our employees’ mental, physical, social and financial well-being and has implemented a number of supports for our team members. Revera has provided access to internal professional Well-Being Coaches for all employees and is facilitating workplace mental health training for our leaders to build awareness, reduce stigma and help support their team members. We’ve also developed an Inclusive Leader Behaviour Framework to help our managers have open dialogue about the things that matter most to our employees.

Through the constant challenges we’ve faced, we must learn the skills to be able to support each other. Our regular support networks have been disrupted due to physical distancing and many of us may be silently struggling. Mental health is a spectrum ranging from crisis to thriving. No matter where someone lies on that spectrum, it’s important to have regular self-checks to reflect on how you’re feeling. If you feel like you’re struggling, it’s okay to ask for help or support. I encourage you to be honest with yourself and seek the support you need. You are deserving of self-care and there are people who will help you.

In an earlier blog about mental health and COVID-19, I expanded on the three Ws (wash your hands, wear your mask and watch your distance) to include a fourth: be ‘wary’ of changes in your mental health and those around you. I want to encourage everyone to listen to their inner voice. We could all use some kindness and extra support these days and being honest with yourself and ‘getting real’ is the first step in a positive direction for your mental health.

Stay safe, and let’s take care of ourselves and each other.

Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer of Revera
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Dr. Rhonda Collins brings passion and expertise in memory care, dementia, falls prevention and clinical quality improvement to the role of Revera’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Collins is a family physician with a certificate of added competence in Care of the Elderly from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.