IT’S MENTAL HEALTH WEEK – WHAT PREVENTATIVE MEASURES ARE WE TAKING?

It is the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) 62nd annual Mental Health Week (MHW) with activities taking place nationwide. People from all walks of life are encouraged to learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health and mental illness, including prevention.

“We all have mental health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of overall mental and physical health and well-being. But maintaining good mental health in today’s hectic and stress-filled society is a challenge,” says Peter Coleridge, National CEO, CMHA.

As a not-for-profit organization offering therapeutic counselling, Family Service PEI (FSPEI) has identified a need for preventative services, allowing people to get the help they need before their smaller issue, such as stress, escalates into a serious mental health issue, requiring medical intervention.

In an effort to bridge the gap, this past spring FSPEI initiated a group therapy program specifically for women experiencing high stress levels. “Nobody was offering group therapy, and we believed this would be the most cost effective way to provide affordable and effective counselling to PEI residents,” explains Denise Lockhart, Executive Director, FSPEI.

Unfortunately, after much promotion and marketing, the group therapy initiative flopped. Numerous people expressed interest, but indicated that they did not have the funds available to cover the $150 cost. “This failure leaves us wondering: How much money are people able and willing to invest in their mental health?” says Lockhart, “Yes, there are some people that genuinely cannot afford this program, but everyone is talking about how stressed they are, however it seems people are not willing to invest money and time in this area of their personal health and wellness.”
Nearly 12,000 adults and children on Prince Edward Island receive services from Health PEI’s Mental Health and Addictions each year. According to the statistics collected by FSPEI, stress, as indicated by clients, has consistently been the number one issue having a negative impact on their lives.

Lockhart believes that as a community we need to step up to make sure that these services are available for those people who do want to invest in their own mental health, but cannot afford to do so. “We have numerous free initiatives and programs to promote physical health and wellness and we need to move in that same direction with mental health.”

As a not-for-profit, community based agency the goal of FSPEI is to provide credit and therapeutic counselling services to all Islanders regardless of their ability to pay.

# # #
For more information on this subject, or to schedule an interview, please contact Denise Lockhart – Executive Director, Family Service PEI at 902-892-2441, 902-436-9171 or via email: director@familyservice.pe.ca