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A discussion on mental health during the Chamber of Commerce Pancakes & Politics event brought agreement from Mayor Clive Tolley and MLAs Greg Lawrence and Tim McLeod that more conversation and openness are needed

A discussion on mental health during the Chamber of Commerce Pancakes & Politics event brought agreement from Mayor Clive Tolley and MLAs Greg Lawrence and Tim McLeod that more conversation and openness are needed.

The Moose Jaw & District Chamber of Commerce hosted a Pancakes & Politics event at Mosaic place Friday morning. Chamber president Aaron Ruston asked the three speakers about mental health supports.

Ruston said that two years of COVID has “completely changed the way people look at things.” He asked, “How do we get others talking about mental health?”

Moose Jaw Wakamow MLA Greg Lawrence became emotional as he talked about his personal struggles with anxiety.

“I’m sure most of you noticed that I have a service dog now,” Lawrence said. “So that opens the door for conversations that I never would have had before.”

Lawrence’s service dog stood up and did its job of helping him cope as he continued, saying “When I deal with anxiety, as I am right now, I have a tool that calms me down.”

Lawrence said that many people can’t share their experiences of struggling with mental health, and they don’t have to. However, he noted, the conversation is “one of the things that we need to bring to the forefront; that I can help bring to the forefront.”

He added that for him, he was fear of public stigma which kept him from seeking help with his anxiety. Lawrence said he was grateful for events such as Bell Let’s Talk that make it easier for people to open up about how they might be suffering.

Moose Jaw North MLA Tim McLeod said “First and foremost, it’s about identifying both the mental health issues – many people might not be aware that they’re struggling with a mental health issue – and then de-stigmatizing that.”

McLeod said that he’d come prepared with a list of mental health resources that people might not be aware of and that the provincial government has recognized the need for greater mental health and addictions support by investing $23.4 million in the 2021-22 budget.

Mayor Clive Tolley told the gathering that “Everybody in this room has gone through some mental health issues over the last two years. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. It’s been a very difficult time for all of us.”

Tolley said everyone is looking to be healthy and happy, and that finding out how to accomplish those goals needs to be a priority. He gave some advice about healthy living habits before pivoting to discuss the need for people to support one another.

“We can’t depend on helplines and professionals,” Tolley said. “There’s just not enough resources for everyone… we have to look after each other.”

The mayor encouraged those listening to “forget that Protestant work ethic or whatever your ancestors gave you.” He said that people need to take the time to listen to and look after friends, family, and work colleagues.

If it seems like a person is in distress and needs to talk, set aside what you’re working on at the moment, Tolley said, and give that person your full attention.

Available mental health resources in and around Moose Jaw include:

  • Healthline 811 – free, confidential, 24/7 health and mental health and addictions phone line
  • onlinetherapyuser.ca/ – free online cognitive behavioral therapy for adults
  • kidshelpphone.ca – offers crisis support for kids, teens, and young adults across Canada through phone, text, Facebook Messenger, or online chat
  • farmstressline.ca – Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture service providing 24/7 crisis counseling for rural Saskatchewan residents
  • 211 Saskatchewan (sk.211.ca) – call or text 211 in Saskatchewan for 24/7 help in finding the right service for whatever it is you may be going through
  • Always call 911 if you feel that someone (you or another person) is in immediate danger

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