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Mental Health Conversations Need To Continue

Help yourself or those you love in hope and recovery from mood disorders.

Peer Support: 204-560-1461

Toll-Free:  1-800-263-1460

Hours of Operation: 9-9, Monday to Friday

The conversation around mental health and illness is more important than ever. In research conducted by the Canadian mental Health Association (CMHA), 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness in any given year. By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have – or have had – a mental illness. The pandemic has only increased the challenges people face with mental health. 

Although discussions, research, and public awareness around mental health have improved over the past decade, it can still be a challenge to accept when we’re struggling. If we admit that we aren’t okay with the efforts we’ve put into building a life or a career, we will crumble around us. The fear that the stigma around mental illness will have family, friends, and colleagues look at us differently, not seeing the person with joy, sorrow, ups and downs, but only the illness. 

Mental health weeks are crucial in steering conversation. Showing people are more than their illnesses and tackling the stigma and prejudices still lingering in society towards mental health. For 71 years, CMHA has held its mental health week in May. The theme for 2022 is “This is Empathy,” the capacity we share as human beings to step into each other’s shoes. Rita Chahal, Executive Director of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba (MDAM), considers mental health awareness isn’t just reserved for one week in the year but should always be on the public’s mind. 

“There are so many different issues we’ve dedicated a month, a day, or a week for, but these are ongoing issues in our lives. I believe mental health is equally if not more important than your physical health.”

Chahal describes the pandemic as a relevant example. During COVID-19, there was massive discussion around health through wearing masks, limiting household visitation, and physical distancing, which was critical in slowing the spread of the virus and protecting immunocompromised and vulnerable communities. However, It wasn’t until much later that discourse included the mental and emotional ramifications closures and isolation had. 

“You couldn’t go out anywhere, you couldn’t talk to people, you couldn’t go to work, families multitasking and having kids at home and caregiving,” says Chahal. “We might not have recognized we have had an underlying mental health issue. All of this started to come out into the light in the last couple of years.”

For Chahal, if there was one silver lining which came from the pandemic was bringing the conversation of mental health and illness to the centre of discussion. “Governments are paying much more attention, employers, individuals, communities we’re all taking chart of that we’re having conversations.”

Although the conversation has evolved and many more people are open to having talks about mental health, the stigma still lingers. The only way to remove the stigma is to keep talking about it. That’s just the first step in improving the mental health of individuals, and there need to be substantial investments into the mental health sector, both financial and human. Digital and online services have come a long way in the past years and have opened many doors. However, infrastructure still has a way to go, especially in rural areas. Publications and research are other areas Chahal would like to see improved, as the impacts of the pandemic on mental health won’t be just for today or tomorrow but years down the line. Governments, legislators, decision-makers, and the private sector can play more prominent roles beyond supplying dollars. Dialogue and collaborative events are positive courses forward. Chahal acknowledges the mental health sector is immensely challenging, not only for those working in it but also for the time and financial investments needed to improve people’s lives.

It isn’t an isolated experience, says Chahal. Others are walking the same path as you. You’re not alone.

If you or someone you’re close to is struggling, services are available to help. 

The Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba is a self-help organization dedicated to providing support, education and advocacy for those living with a mood disorder, co-occurring disorders or other mental health illnesses. We increase public awareness about mood disorders and empower people to develop hope and recovery.

Help yourself or those you love in hope and recovery from mood disorders.

Peer Support: 204-560-1461

Toll-Free:  1-800-263-1460

Hours of Operation: 9-9 M-F


Mental Health Services

Mental health problems range from mental stress and strain to severe disorders. Mental health is as important as physical health and spiritual health to our overall well-being.

Manitoba’s mental health services include:

  • promoting good mental health
  • identifying and intervening early in mental illness
  • helping people living with mental health disorders

These services are provided through regional health authorities, the Selkirk Mental Health Centre and self-help and family support organizations.

If your family doctor or Employee Assistance Plan refers you, Manitoba Health pays for the services of a psychiatrist. Contact your local regional health authority or ask your family doctor to find a psychiatrist in your area.

To find a psychologist in private practice in your area, ask your family doctor, call the Psychological Association of Manitoba at 204-487-0784 or visit their website at

Community mental health services

Community mental health services include assessment, case management, rehabilitation, supportive counselling and crisis intervention. Community-based mental health services are operated by regional health authorities or through contracted organizations. These services assist people with mental health difficulties to develop coping and living skills and obtain other community services needed to meet their living needs and personal goals.

Acute-care treatment facilities provide psychiatric care and treatment in inpatient psychiatric units of general hospitals or community health centres operated by regional health authorities.

Outpatient services are provided at many community hospitals and health centres. These services include identification, assessment, treatment and case management services for persons with mental health difficulties.

Mental health self-help services

Community-based mental health self-help organizations provide help and support from others with similar mental health experiences. These organizations also help the public understand mental illness.

Learning more about mental illness

The Mental Health Education Resource Centre (MHERC) has a website and a library of educational resources. Service providers and the public can borrow print materials and videotapes on a wide range of subjects, including eating disorders, substance use disorders and suicide prevention.

Opportunities for people with mental health challenges

Partnership for Consumer Empowerment works with consumers to educate the public, service providers and others about opportunities for people with mental health challenges to become more involved in their communities.

Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services

Provides information, support, counselling and outreach to farmers, rural & Northern Manitobans of all ages. The services are free and confidential. Call our toll free helpline to speak to a trained counsellor at 1-866-367-3276, or use our online supports (chat & email)

Provincial mental health centre

The Selkirk Mental Health Centre (SMHC) is an inpatient facility providing long-term treatment and rehabilitation for Manitobans whose challenging mental health needs cannot be met elsewhere in the health care system. SMHC also provides short-term inpatient care for Manitobans from regions where acute mental health care services are not locally available.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

Reconnecting to Filipino Heritage Primrose Madayag Knazan is an award-winning Jewish Filipino-Canadian playwright and author. Her novel, Lessons in Fusion, was nominated for the Manitoba Book Award for Best First Book, both the Manitoba and Saskatchewan Young Readers Choice Awards, and won the Manitoba Book Award for Young Readers. Her play, Precipice, wonContinue Reading

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