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After two years of pandemic, theme of Mental Health Week is ‘empathy’

More education and awareness needed for Canadians struggling with mental health, Canadian Mental Health Association says
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Empathy is named as the theme of Canadian Mental Health Associations’ (CMHA) Mental Health Week. The association is celebrating the week of May 2 to May 8 as the 71st annual mental health week in Canada.

After two challenging years of the pandemic, Empathy is named as the theme of Canadian Mental Health Association's (CMHA) Mental Health Week. The association is celebrating the week of May 2 to May 8 as the 71st annual mental health week in Canada.

CMHA said it is hosting a series of events to engage the community in conversations about the stresses and stigmas of mental health, and to educate and raise awareness.

“We are noticing greater division among individuals and what that leads to is a sense of social isolation,” said Patty MacDonald, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association-Sudbury/Manitoulin

“Recent research supports a need for more mental health promotion. Public education about empathy and the impact it can have on community mental health is our area of focus during Mental Health Week," she added. 

CMHA said the pandemic has left many Canadians continuing to worry what the future holds and how it will affect them. 

"Far from feeling the pandemic is over, most people in Canada report feeling stressed about what’s next, with 64 per cent worried about new variants and 57 per cent worried about COVID-19 circulating in the population for years to come (according to new research from the Canadian Mental Health Association)," said a news release from CMHA.

The association added that this type of prolonged communal stress can lead to polarization and division. There’s no better time for empathy.

Bringing the community together is a goal for CMHA-S/M this Mental Health Week, according to Mental Health Educator, Michaela Penwarden-Watson. 

“We are hosting presentations in English and French, both virtually and in-person, to help people better understand mental health and mental illness. Mental health is something we can protect, not just something we can lose,”  Penwarden-Watson said. 

“Empathy opens the possibility of protecting not only our own mental health but also the mental health of those around us. Relating, listening, and tuning-in puts us in a position to eliminate stigma and self-stigmatization.”