Written by: Lauren Anderson
Edited by: Jacqueline Cheung
Dear CCP readers,
As we enter the holiday season, it is important to promote mental health and well-being for all. During the holiday season, it can be a depressing time for those without strong connections to their family and for those without shelter. Here in Canada, the weather changes can also contribute to greater environmental stressors. During this time, it is important that we focus on promoting mental health for everyone, and especially those who are facing loneliness, homelessness, and/or displacement.
In this blog post, we focus on how to support others and find support to fight the holiday blues. The Canadian Courage Project seeks to educate the public on issues relating to mental health and promote the well-being and health of youth. We hope you engage in fulfilling activities to pay it forward this holiday season. If you are interested in donating to our organization, please click here.
If you would like to learn more information regarding the current state of homelessness in Canada and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), welcome! If you are returning for more information about the particular challenges faced by youth experiencing homelessness and those with animal companions, welcome back! If you are new to our blog, welcome to the community and thank you for your interest in learning more about issues regarding the homelessness crisis in Canada and beyond - you are one step closer to becoming a changemaker in your community, and you are in great company.
The Importance of Mental Health Promotion
One of the leading concerns across the globe is the increase of mental illnesses, with depression being a leading cause of disability and suicide being the fourth leading cause of death in youths 15-29 years old. It is important to recognize mental health related issues because they affect a vast majority of the population, yet they often go overlooked due to lack of resources, under-education, and stigma. The goal of mental health promotion is to fight each of these areas to increase awareness and promote bolstering one’s mental health and well-being. Mental health promotion can also be a powerful method for prevention, as there is a higher likelihood of increased education and interventions. From a community level standpoint, we believe in educating our peers on areas relating to mental health, and finding interventional methods that can help encourage a positive well-being for youth in our area. We can help improve social conditions to enhance overall good mental health in the community by vying for a healthy physical environment, a healthy social environment, and educating on developing strong coping skills.
How to Support Your Own Mental Health
The holidays may not always be a joyful time for everyone, and it is important that we use this time to give yourselves better support and support others as well. The holiday season may trigger bad memories and loss, and weather conditions can contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), leading to this heightened state of depression for many. Sixty-four percent of people living with mental illness report that the holidays make their condition worse. In light of this, we want to highlight ways to support your own mental health during the holiday season.
Take time for yourself. Make sure you set time to rejuvenate and replenish your energy after any family/friend gatherings.
Learn how to set boundaries. Click here for more information on how to set boundaries and communicate them.
Try to go outside and enjoy the fresh air (and the sun when it’s out). Nature can be so healing and grounding!
Try to eat nutritious meals, but don’t shy away from indulging in any holiday treats!
Don’t put pressure on yourself to buy gifts for everyone if you cannot financially do so this year. Your presence is a gift!
Reach out to mental health professionals if need be. Your mental health matters and there is no shame in needing help.
Supporting Others this Holiday Season
The winter season brings upon lots of additional stress for our neighbours who live without shelter. The cold weather is an additional stressor that people facing homelessness living in colder cities experience. It is important that we understand the value of taking care of our individual mental health, but it is also important that we reach out to others and help those in need.
Community-based mental health care is an approach to mental health promotion that the CCP endorses. This is because we value promoting the health and well-being of the whole person. Local programs are valuable as local officials and community members have a better understanding of the specific needs of their community. To support better mental health services and care for others please read below for detailed ways to get involved in community mental health:
Volunteer at a food bank/food pantry and donate food to the organization as well.
Support better housing for the homeless population and advocate for better funding in housing services.
Support agencies that provide warm shelter, hot meals, and warm showers during the winter season.
Have open and honest conversations with people you trust. Don’t be scared to ask the tough questions!
Spread awareness and advocate about mental health promotion to fight the stigma of mental illness and homelessness. Read more here about real life experiences regarding understanding the stigma of mental illness!
If you would like to donate to the CCP as a holiday contribution, please click here. All help is appreciated!
Thank you for reading our blog! Feel free to leave a comment with your feedback and/or insights to help us enrich the quality of future posts and cater to the interests of our community of changemakers.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
- The CCP Team
5 ways to set boundaries for the holiday season - The Wellness Society: Self-help, therapy and coaching tools. The Wellness Society | Self-Help, Therapy and Coaching Tools. (2022, November 24). Retrieved December 23, 2022, from https://thewellnesssociety.org/how-to-set-boundaries/#:~:text=5%20Ways%20to%20Set%20Boundaries%20for%20the%20Holiday,you%20stick%20to%20the%20boundaries%20you%E2%80%99ve%20set.%20
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Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, December 14). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651
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World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health. World Health Organization. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health#tab=tab_1