Tuesday is World Mental Health Day, and a local non-profit organization representing several community groups active in the mental health field is trying to raise awareness about the issue.
Regroupement des ressources alternatives en santé mentale (RRASMQ) held a small rally outside the Mont-Royal Metro station on Monday afternoon.
WATCH: Breaking the stigma, how you can get involved in World Mental Health Day
The aim of the event was to raise awareness about alternative resources — outside the medical system — that are available to people who are experiencing mental health issues.
“It is difficult because most of the people are shy to ask for help,” said RRASMQ member Stéphane Belleville.
“There’s stigmatization about mental health. That’s why we want to raise awareness saying many, many people are affected. They say one of five people are affected [by] mental health [issues].”
Belleville credits a local community organization for saving his own life. He was diagnosed with major depression in 2013.
“I was admitted at the hospital and two days after, there was no more danger that I would kill myself so they [said], ‘OK, you are fine, go.'”
It took him six months before he reached out to a community group for help.
“It’s not as formal; it’s easier to get accepted,” he said.
Now he stays involved in the alternative mental health movement, to give back to others.
“They saved my life, the community — so this is my way of giving back, being involved,” he said. “Things happen, you get over it, and now I’m helping others get better.”
According to Belleville, what makes community organizations’ approach to mental health different is that they look at the whole person.
“We’re not just a diagnosis,” he said. “You know, you get into the health system, you’re just a number; you’re just a diagnosis.”
“It’s the person that’s important,” he said, adding that alternative resources groups look at the different societal causes that might lead a person to experience mental health issues, citing poverty as an example.
“In the community, you have people that help you take care of yourself right away,” he said. “They offer a place to stay, after that they have low-income housing and they will provide you with a social worker that can follow you at home or at the clinic.”
Belleville said RRASMQ relies on events like today’s to spread the word.
“There are resources available, but we don’t have a big budget to advertise. That’s why we are having a day like today to make ourselves known.”
For more information, visit the Regroupement des ressources alternatives en santé mentale website.
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