One in five people suffer from a mental illness.
The Canadian Mental Health Association states that changing attitudes and behaviours around mental illness takes time, and connecting with other people to discuss it can help.
Tessa Blaike Whitecloud, one of three panel members at Winnipeg’s Vital Signs Community Conversation on Mental Health, Addictions and Healing, talked about the way society influences mental illness.
On Mon. Jan. 23, she addressed one of the key questions of the evening – what are the best ways to prevent addictions and promote healing and well-being?
“Some people get triggered, and that’s about changing our society,” Whitecloud said. “For me, it was rape culture. That’s what led to my PTSD. So that’s how we need to address and fix that. For others it was trauma as a child. It’s cyclical trauma as a result of colonial structures.”
As the roundtable session started, people sitting at several tables discussed this same question.
Johanna Petkau, a mental health worker in Portage La Prairie agreed with another participant about how children should learn self-care as a way of preventing mental illness.
“They [children] have a dialogue in their mind about themselves, “ she said. “They don’t have someone knowing what’s going on or who recognizes that.”
Petkau also talked about how people have easier access to substances, which can lead to substance abuse, than counselling.
“Our programs are not set up for when they are needed,” she said, adding that substances help people feel better right away.
Relationships and shifting focus to the heart elements, such as kindness and compassion,Chanikng were focuses at another discussion table.
At the end of the conference, Blaike Whitecloud added that prevention could focus on how to make mental illness less severe when it’s happening to someone.
She also mentioned how mental health is a collaborative project because people feed off one another.
Robb Nash, the keynote speaker of the evening, touched on telling your story and being vulnerable to other people can have an impact.
“Somebody out there needs to hear your story,” he said.
Winnipeg’s Vital Signs® initiative, a project of The Winnipeg Foundation, is a check-up on the vitality of our community. As part of Vital Signs®, the first in a series of Vital Conversations was held on Mon. Jan. 23, focused on Mental Health, Addictions and Healing.
For more stories on this event, go to “Digging deep on mental health and well-being“. You can also view a full recording or a recap of highlights from the discussion by visiting The Winnipeg Foundation’s Facebook page.