CMHA Mental Health Week wraps up




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Truro News

TRURO – Getting “grounded” and “branching out” are important aspects of dealing with anxiety and stress, says the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Colchester East Hants branch. “Gardening, of course, is a wonderful way to do that, right, because your hands are in the Earth, your feet are on the ground," said Susan Henderson. “And we all know that gardening has tremendous mental health benefits.” Keeping with its “branching out” campaign, they tied a nature theme to their inaugural plant sale event alongside a barbeque lunch as CMHA Mental Health Week came to a close. A load of soil was delivered the same day for their new gardening program. In addition to the fundraiser, they gave away free potted sunflower plants in support of Ukraine. It is the national flower and also represents positive mental health. The CMHA outlines three components as the foundation of recovery: socialization, recreation, and employmentrelated or meaningful work, said Henderson. “People want to do things that make them laugh and bring joy," said Henderson. “It's been such a heavy time, I think particularly in this community, with the mass casualty. It has had its impacts and we want to have some fun while still supporting people … and enjoying each other’s company.” The CMHA’S Mental Health Week (May 2 to 8) is an annual nationwide event. The Colchester East Hants branch coordinated several activities including grief groups, outreach sessions, swimming, yoga, walking, improv, acupuncture, and crafting. “We try to provide activities that encompass all of those things,” said Henderson, who adds they offer many similar activities year-round. “And we've all learned with COVID, of course, how important social connection is – it's everything. And so we try to do a lot of that, even people gathering around the barbecue and looking at plants together and talking. I mean, it's just all very conducive to good mental health.” Throughout the week, CMHA youth outreach workers visited schools to connect with youth and share what they offer, including afterschool programs and one-onone support. “There seems to be a lot of youth that are interested in supporting mental health,” observed youth outreach worker Sarah Mulligan. She said they are commonly seeing depression, anxiety and social anxiety and isolation among youth. School closures and the cancellation of extracurriculars and sports teams during COVID took away coping strategies. Now being able to offer safe spaces in groups again is huge for youth, said Mulligan. “They are just as much in need of support as the adults of our community and they experience a unique stress in school and in their social lives," said Mulligan, adding they need help to cope. The CMHA Nova Scotia Division also hosted a series of virtual “Empathy in Action” talks, including mental health and grief with Truro’s Sam Madore, and community suicide prevention with Seana Jewer, a Nova Scotia Health engagement leader in the Northern Zone piloting the “Roots of Hope” initiative developing community means to reduce suicide. Simultaneously running was Colchester Taco Week, coordinated by Truro Buzz, with restaurants donating $2 from each specialty taco sold to the branch. Henderson said they are thankful for the support and had fun sampling tacos. The theme also reminded her of their partnership with the former Taco Stiles Food Truck, with fun taco sayings like “let’s taco-bout mental health” and “every now and then we fall apart and that's OK.” The branch has also been selected as the Mchappy Day (May 11) recipient for donations at Mcdonald’s in Truro.