May 7, 2020
Many of you know that mental health is a topic that is near and dear to me. This week the whole country is talking about it during Mental Health Week May 4 to 10, and there’s no better time than now to be having that conversation.
Whether or not you have good coping skills and a strong support network, everyone’s mental health is being tested right now. We’re scared, anxious and frustrated. We’re stress eating and we’re spending too much time on our screens. We’re also lashing out at perceived injustices: such as those we believe are not properly physically distancing.
During Mental Health Week, I have a request for you. When you find yourself going to that negative place, take a deep breath before reacting. Are you making an assumption without all the facts? Would you normally act this way, or is it the stress talking?
It may feel good to have someone to blame, but it hurts you and it hurts others. Negativity festers, but kindness heals. Be gentle with each other. Support each other. Give others the benefit of the doubt.
And if you, yourself, are struggling, I urge you to seek help. Reach out to someone you trust or one of the many free mental health resources that are available. You do not need to go through this alone.
We’re starting to see the very beginning of the light at the end of the tunnel, as some services start to gradually and cautiously open up. A little less isolation will certainly help all of us feel a bit better.
But let’s remember that although the rules may relax slightly, they won’t be gone. We’ll still need to physically distance, practice good hygiene and do whatever else the health experts tell us to do.
If we don’t, we’ll find ourselves right back where we started – which won’t be good for anyone’s mental health. Coquitlam, let’s do this right.
And now for this week’s shout-outs, where I highlight some of the inspiring things our residents are doing.
In keeping with the mental health theme, I’d like to thank those who are trying to spread some joy in our community, from the 7 p.m. cheer to hopeful messages in sidewalk chalk or on small painted rocks. It makes me smile to see them – but just remember to keep painted rocks out of our creeks and to avoid painting anything permanent, such as fixtures, trees or large rocks in parks or public spaces.
It’s also wonderful to see the caravans of teachers driving through our neighbourhoods in decorated cars to greet their students. I watched one with a local Syrian family, and it was touching to see how much it meant to the daughter when her teacher called out her name.
And last but not least, a big shout-out to International Web Express Printing & Mailing, which has been supporting local groups such as the Immigrant Link Centre Society and Tri Cities Mom’s Group with deliveries, and recently donated a truck and driver to deliver more than 5,000 pounds of food to those in need.
It’s acts of kindness like these that are helping make these difficult times a little more bearable for everyone.
We’re going to get through this. We’re going to see the measures will change, but each time they change, we will be remain in lock step with Dr. Bonnie Henry, and the BC Provincial Health Office, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the experts, the folks who have spent their careers preparing for an epidemic and who are guiding us through a pandemic.
We can do this, Coquitlam. And I thank you all for working with us.
For mental health support, please check out www.mentalhealthweek.ca for resources, www.crisiscentrechat.ca for 24-hour crisis lines or chats for youth and adults, or B.C.’s 24-hour Kids Help Phone for children and youth at 1-800-668-6868.
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