January 28th was Bell Let’s Talk Day and now more than ever we need to break the stigmatization that surrounds mental illness. COVID-19 has turned our world upside down and has isolated many of us from our normal support networks. We have lost the ability to physically connect to our friends and family through hugs, handshakes, and gestures that are all-powerful means of indicating how much we care. A simple hand on the shoulder goes along to show your support for someone. That simple touch is a reminder that we are not alone.
More and more people are feeling isolated and alone. This has a significant impact on everyone’s mental health. It is even harder for those already dealing with mental illness. We need to reach out to each other and treat mental illness like any other illness. Never be afraid to talk about it. By just having the courage to talk about it shows you care and you may actually save someone’s life.
We have a lot of cadets, volunteers, and members who are struggling right now. A lot of people don’t want to admit that they need help. Many are afraid of the stigmatization that has gone along with admitting you need help. Others don’t know where to go to get help. If you need help or know of someone that needs help, speak up. There are a lot of resources available that are free and confidential.
Bell Lets Talk Day Resources
Let’s start with their website at https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/covid-19 . There is information on COVID- 19 Resources at https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/covid-19 with links to tips and other sites and The Bell Let’s Talk Tool Kit at https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/toolkit which has downloadable tools/resources.
Canadian Forces Members Assistance Program (CFMAP)
Next, there is the Canadian Forces Members Assistance Program (CFMAP) their website can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/guide/programs-canadian-forces/cfmap.html . This service is also available to Cadets and their families. You and your staff should all have the toll free number for CFMAP on your phones in case you, your staff, or one of your cadets needs assistance. The number is 1-800-268-7708 ( or TDD 1-800-567-5803). This line is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by a fully bilingual, trained counselor. The role of the telephone counselor is to refer the client to a counselor in private practice for face-to-face counseling, and if the client is in crisis, to provide counseling over the phone. Contact will be made with the client within 48 hours and an appointment will take place within five days or sooner in crisis situations.
Kids Help Phone
Then there are the Kids Help Phone. This is another resource you and your staff should have in your phones. If you haven’t already done so, check out their website at https://kidshelpphone.ca/ . It has information and resources dealing with every type of issue facing kids and youth today. If your cadet is struggling they can go to the website and check out the online resources, or talk to someone through live chat. They can also get support through their texting service “need help now” by texting 686868. It is free across Canada. Or, they can call the kid’s help phone at 1-800-668-6868 where they can talk directly to a counselor. They can also access the kids help phone through Facebook Messenger.
Durham Region Resources
Last but not least, are the community mental health services in your area. I googled “Durham Region Mental Health” and found this website https://www.durham.ca/en/health-and-wellness/mental-health.aspx . It has all of the agencies and resources available in Durham Region.
We are not counselors, nor are we expected to be. When you know someone needs help, providing them with the resources to get the help they need and encourage them to follow through with it. This is no different than encouraging them to go to the doctor when they have had a bad fall and injured themselves or are dealing with a virus they can’t seem to shake. To be healthy we all need to take care of our mind, body, and spirit. Let’s do our part and take care of our people.