New Calgary mental health campaign is offering help over the holidays

File: A woman with her back to the camera is lying on a sofa in a beautiful room with a piano, her hand holding her head. Getty Images

As Canadians across the country celebrate thanksgiving, it can also be a difficult time for others as it can trigger depression and anxiety for some.

Oct. 10 marks World Mental Health Day and the Calgary Counselling Centre is making it easier for those seeking help and guidance.

“Are you okay,” is an online survey available for free until Oct. 16. The anonymous survey is available on the Calgary Counselling Centre’s website and takes about three minutes to give an assessment — which can tell a person whether there is a concern about depression and strategies of what to do, along with services to reach out to.

Robbie Wagner, with the Calgary Counselling Centre, said research tells us that people wait about five years, from the time that they first start identifying a problem until taking action. She added that people in relationships tend to wait even longer — about seven years — before seeking help.

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“What we’re hoping to do through this work and other work we’re involved with, is to shorten that time between when people first aren’t feeling okay to when they reach out for help,” Wagner said. “Because we know that the sooner people seek help and seek services, the quicker they’ll develop strategies to work with the problem.”

Wagner said isolation can contribute to mental illness for just about anybody, but especially for seniors who may be living alone.

“I think that alone time and that focus on one’s own thoughts and ideas and not having contact with family and friends and people in their community can really bring on more isolation for people, which tends to also increase depression and anxiety,” Wagner said.

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Wagner said it’s understanding what you can do to solve the problem or to resolve the problem that will make the biggest difference in your life, and what kind of counselling or treatment you might need as an individual.

Wagner added that exercise can also help “because you may bump into somebody.”

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“There may be somebody for you to talk to. And that alone can change the way you feel,” Wagner said.

Whether it’s through the Calgary Counselling Centre or the Distress Centre, everyone is encouraged to reach out if they’re feeling depressive thoughts, you can call 211 to be linked to professional services in Alberta.

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