CMHA Mental Health Week – May 4-10, 2020
About Mental Health Week
- Every year since 1951, CMHA has hosted Mental Health Week in the first full week in May, making 2020 the 69th year.
- Mental Health Week is a Canadian tradition, with communities, schools and workplaces rallying to celebrate, protect and promote mental health.
- Visit www.mentalhealthweek.ca for info and tools about CMHA Mental Health Week.
- Connect on social media using the hashtags #GetReal and #MentalHealthWeek.
An epidemic of loneliness
- Even before there was COVID-19, loneliness and social isolation were already of major concern in our society.
- People with weak or few social connections are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviour and suicidal behaviours.(1)
- Lack of strong relationships affects the risk of mortality in a comparable way to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.(2)
- A 2017 Vancouver Foundation survey found that nearly a third of people aged 18-24 in the bustling city said that they felt lonely.(3)
- Research shows that loneliness is more keenly felt by people who belong to a visible minority, who are Indigenous, who have mobility challenges and who are LGBTQ-identifying.(4)
The importance of social connection
- Social inclusion and social integration have been identified by the WHO and the UN as important protective factors for good mental health.
- By providing emotional support, companionship and opportunities for meaningful social engagement, social networks have an influence on self-esteem, coping effectiveness, depression, distress and sense of well-being.
- Social networks and social ties have a beneficial effect on mental health outcomes, including stress reactions, psychological well-being and symptoms of psychological distress including depression and anxiety.
- Studies show that having social connections and being civically engaged are associated with positive mental and physical health and well-being.(5)
- Research has shown that even having one good friend can save children from being lonely.(6)
Social connection in a time of social distancing
- Everyone needs emotional support, but it’s even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Some experts have argued that social distancing should actually be called physical distancing, because we actually need each other socially. Read more on this subject in a recent opinion piece in The Globe & Mail here.
- Phone calls, video calls and other digital technologies offer excellent opportunities for connecting face-to-face, even when we can’t be in the same room.
- The pandemic can bring us together in unexpected ways. Canada has been at the forefront of a campaign for caremongering, which has seen members of the community helping one another during these difficult times.
- Social connection can help us recover as a community. Socially connected communities simply respond better to crisis and disaster, and rebound better afterwards.