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The first full week of May has been observed as Mental Health Week in Canada, since 1951. Hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), this year’s theme is understanding your emotions.
There’s scientific evidence that shows labelling and talking about your emotions can help you feel better. Emotional literacy – the ability to ‘recognize, understand, label and express emotions’ – is a valuable skill that helps promote positive mental health. It can regulate emotions, ease anxiety and obsessive thinking, and even impact our body’s physiological response.
This isn’t necessarily an easy skill to master. Exploring our feelings, especially uncomfortable or negative ones, is actually something that many of us actively avoid, incorrectly believing it’s better to go numb. Remember, naming your emotions – good or bad – helps.
As part of their #MentalHealthWeek activities, the CMHA has provided information and articles on a variety of topics, including how to build your ability to identify your emotions. I encourage you to check out CMHA’s website for practical mental health tips and advice. The website also has great ways you can participate in Mental Health Week to help promote mental health wellness, understanding and acceptance. From social media, to posters, to full toolkits, the CMHA has made it easy for all Canadians to take part.
It’s time to #GetReal about how you feel. The next time someone asks you how you are, take a moment to check in with yourself and answer honestly. Not only does this have the potential to help you feel better, it can also help build connections and relationships, which are also important to mental health.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a tough year for many. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health challenges, help is available. Please check out the various phone, online and in-person supports available to Albertans.
Jason Luan served as the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions from April 30, 2019 to July 7, 2021.