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Mental Health Week offers support and education to Nipissing Community

The Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing sheds light on some of the many myths about mental illness

In partnership with CMHA North Bay and District and other services, the Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing (CCCNIP) will be hosting Mental Health Week, May 2 – 9, 2022. There will be several activities and events aimed at showcasing the different services that are available in the community.

A free Community Barbecue will be held on Friday, May 6 at the Bandshell at the North Bay waterfront from 12 to 3 p.m. Everyone is welcome!

Mental Health Week is an important initiative as it highlights the fact that one in five Canadians suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives.

While we are hearing and talking more about mental illness, many misconceptions surrounding mental illness still exist.

Common myths about mental illness (information from CMHA)

People with mental health problems can be unstable and violent.

Truth: “Researchers agree that mental illness is not a good predictor of violence. In fact, if we look at mental illness on its own, people who experience a mental illness are no more violent than people without a mental illness. Exclusion from communities is linked to violence and people with mental illness are often among those who are excluded. As well, those who experience mental illness are much more likely to be victims of violence than to be violent themselves.”

People with mental health problems cannot hold a job and should not be in leadership roles.
Truth: “Whether you realize it or not, workplaces are filled with people who have experienced or are experiencing mental illness. Having a mental illness should prevent someone from having a job. Some people benefit from changes at work to support their goals, but many people work with few supports from their employer. Most people who experience serious mental illness want to work but face systemic barriers to finding and keeping meaningful employment.”

Mental health problems are a sign of bad character or personality flaws
Truth: While it’s true that some people who experience mental illness may act in ways that are unexpected or seem strange to others, we need to remember that the illness, not the person, is behind these behaviours. No one chooses to experience a mental illness. People who experience a change in their behaviour due to a mental illness may feel extremely embarrassed or ashamed around others. It’s also true that people with a history of a mental illness are like anyone else: they may make poor choices or do something unexpected for reasons unrelated to symptoms of their illness.”

Mental health problems are not real health problems and people can get better by just trying harder
Truth: “The words we use to describe mental illness have changed over time. What hasn’t changed is the fact that mental illness is not the regular ups and downs of life. Mental illness creates distress, it doesn’t go away on its own, and is a real health problem with effective treatments. When someone breaks their arm, we wouldn’t expect them to just “get over it.” Nor would we blame them if they needed a cast, sling, or other help in their daily life while they recovered.”

Another common misconception is that medication is the only and best way to treat mental health problems. In fact, many mental health conditions respond as well or better to psychotherapy and other supports when compared to medication. Furthermore, simple behaviour changes in diet, exercise and social connection can drastically improve mental health functioning.

"Mental Health is on a continuum of wellness,” says Mary Montgomery of CCCNIP. “Covid 19 has shown that mental health is impacted by social supports and connection. CCCNIP has many programs available to treat mental health and addictions.”

Need to talk to someone? Call CCCNIP at 705-472-6515 or visit them online here.