Ending the Stigma Of Mental Illness

Ending the Stigma Of Mental Illness

One in five Canadians lives with a mental illness according to statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association. In my experience, the rate at which people struggle with mental health issues of some kind is much higher. Most people suffer in silence. Statistically speaking, we are all connected to someone struggling with mental illness. While you’re reading this, look around you. I guarantee someone you just saw is struggling with mental illness and/or a mental health issue of some sort. It’s guaranteed. Are you surprised?

I remember the first time I knew what it meant to feel sad and not know why; and the time I realized that I felt this way a lot of the time, and still didn’t know why. I was six years old. It confused me deeply. I had loving parents, we had a house to live in and food to eat, I went to a good school, I had a good community of people around me. I still felt sad. A lot.

When I was a kid, nobody talked about mental illness, mental health, or anything in the middle. It simply wasn’t something that was a part of the dialogue. As I contemplated what I was going to write this morning, I realized that actually, I don’t recall any public conversations about mental health growing up, whether it was elementary school years, or high school. And while I like to joke that I’m getting old, it wasn’t that long ago that I was in high school.

 It wasn’t for lack of experiences that could lead to a discussion either. I had friends who had very difficult home lives, knew people who lived through tragic accidents, I’ve lost friends to suicide, and more, never mind the statistics we now know about the rate at which mental illness affects the population as a whole. I’m not sure why it was not talked about, it just wasn’t.

Now that I’m older, and in the mental health field, I’m glad that there is more talk about mental illness and mental health management. What I find now, however, is that I can grow tired about simply talking about it and creating awareness, probably to a fault. Awareness is very important. I can only imagine the difference it would have made for me, or friends I now know struggled in childhood, if we could have heard about mental health and had discussions about it. The discussions, however, leave me asking the question, “So now what?” Many of the discussions I hear sound hopeless and don’t offer many solutions. As a professional, I’m also well aware that the solution isn’t simply more professionals and more mental health services.

 

Let’s Talk Hope

One of the things I’m known for, and is written all over my bios on various websites, is that I don’t believe in hopeless causes. It is one of my fundamental beliefs that there is hope in every situation, even if we can’t always see it when we’re in the middle of it. Last year, I connected with Connie Jakab who formed National Hope Talks and we collaborated on a conference in Calgary this past January. The conference is all about hope.

This time around, in January 2020, the conference will be hosted in Edmonton and Calgary, and together with 140 Sports, we’re bringing it to Delta. It’s time we went beyond talking and start acting like we believe that there’s hope.

 

What Is Let’s Talk Hope?

Let’s Talk Hope is a conference, or perhaps an unconference where we bring together students, teachers, parents, mental health workers, business people, non-profit leaders, and more to talk about Hope. We’ll have some speakers with lived experience and unique insight into mental health. This will set the tone for the day, and give some valuable information about what some of us are seeing in the community in terms of mental health. We’re also going to have workshops that incorporate different art forms and help build skills to manage mental health in our own lives, the lives of our community, and beyond.

The peak of the experience at Let’s Talk Hope are the incubator sessions. In these sessions, we get into small groups where people are mixed up to have at least one teacher, student, business leader, mental health worker, non-profit leader, etc. Each person gets 2-3 min to share their perspective and what they are noticing about mental health. Each group then writes down what was commonly shared and what could potentially be the solution.

We know we aren’t going to solve mental illness in one day. What we are going to do is create hope, and get creative, and talk solutions. Solutions that will come from every part of our community, not just the professionals.

 

Join us in Bringing Hope to Delta in January 2020

I can tell you that the first Let’s Talk Hope conference this year was one of the most powerful, encouraging, and hope giving experiences I’ve had in my work in mental health. It helps bring the message of hope in mental health forward, knocks down silos between providers, clients, and the community, and gives us a renewed sense of connection, of togetherness in this fight for mental health in our own back yard.

Does this sound like something you’d like to be a part of? We need to hear your voice and have you as part of the solution to bring hope to our community.

 

Join us on January 18, 2020 for a day of community, celebration, sharing each other’s stories, and talking solutions.

Celebrating Resilience – Your Voice Matters

Celebrating Resilience – Your Voice Matters

I remember when I found music. It was on an old church piano sometime before the age of 6. I grew up around music, both listening to it, and also as a part of my culture. There’s an old joke that Mennonite folk are born signing four-part harmony. The funny part is that it’s not so far from the truth. I remember how it felt to hear notes, and how it felt to play them. I remember how there was so much going on inside of me that I couldn’t figure out how to get out of my head and out of my heart – except through those old piano keys.

Recently, American Idol crowned its newest winner, Laine Hardy. While Laine is certainly a talented guy, I’ve been fascinated by one of the other contestants throughout the entire season this year. He is a meek, quiet guy, who is an immensely talented musician. He hasn’t said much about his history, but you can tell he’s been through some stuff. He has said that he hasn’t had much support in his life, and that’s part of what has made the support of fans so overwhelming for him – and you can tell that it is overwhelming when you watch him on the screen.

The contestant’s name is Alejandro Aranda, or as many know him, simply “Homie.” He said something during one of the videos they played on the final episode that stuck with me. He said, and I paraphrase, that kids need to be encouraged to find themselves in music and express their emotions. It got me thinking about how my life may have turned out if I hadn’t found music. From the little I know about this contestant’s life, I can’t imagine where he would be without music. It’s clear that a key to his resilience, and certainly mine, has been music.

 

What Is Resilience?

The answer to this question could be multiple posts long, but for our purposes, I want to define resilience this way:

Resilience isn’t finding the perfect balance and constantly withstanding what life throws at you; resilience is finding a way to thrive in the midst of challenges, knowing that your thriving will sometimes be messy. It is finding your way in life, using the unique gifts you’ve been given, to forge a path and a way forward despite the difficulties.

For me this has been using music to be mindful, to prove that I can challenge myself, to express emotions that defy the words that I can produce through the English language, and to find a way to use my own challenges to make something that encourages others and brings us closer together.

 

What Is Celebrating Resilience?

Celebrating Resilience is a partnership between our good friend Radina of Radina Photography and our own social venture, Alongside You. Celebrating Resilience is a gallery showing to highlight the resilience in our local community and encourage others who may be struggling. The exhibit will showcase 9 portraits and stories of recovery and resilience in the areas of mental health, chronic illness, abusive relationships, and more. You can read more of Radina’s story and how she came up with the exhibit idea here. What is so great about this project is it gives a platform for people to have a voice in their resilience, to tell their story, and to do good in the community at the same time.

We are using the show to raise funds for our Step Forward Program here at Alongside You that subsidizes our services for people who need financial assistance. We’re hoping to raise $15,000 toward services for the community.

 

Join Us For Celebrating Resilience

We would love for you to join us on June 1, 2019, from 6:30pm-9:30pm at Stir Coffee House to see the images and stories of resilience in our community. Come, and be encouraged by those who have gone through it. Find common ground in the community, and perhaps find the courage to share your own journey.

After the opening, the images and stories will remain at Stir Coffee House for some time; after this, they will be distributed in the community through local businesses and organizations for a second showing.

Click here to let us know you’re coming on our Facebook event, and share with your friends!

 

Our Thank You To Our Supporters

This project, and show could not take place without support. We have brought on corporate sponsors, and we are looking for private sponsors to continue the project, and to continue the work we do through the Step Forward Program. If you’d like to sponsor as an individual, please click here where you can submit a sponsorship through our website – please put “Celebrating Resilience” in the dedication box. If you’re a business and want to sponsor, please contact Andrew through email by clicking here.

Our sponsors are incredible. Without their generosity, this project would not happen. Please see below for our corporate partners, and we look forward to seeing you on June 1st!

 

Title Sponsor


 

Event Sponsors


 
 


   
 


World Continence Week

World Continence Week

It’s World Continence Week! Since its inception in Cairo in 2008, we celebrate from Monday – Sunday in the last week of June. It is estimated that incontinence affects approximately 400 million people worldwide. Historically people didn’t talk about their symptoms, finding it too personal, embarrassing, or thinking there was something different or wrong with their bodies in the form of involuntary leakage.

The purpose of World Continence Week is to increase public awareness and encourage people to educate themselves by talking to a friend or family member, a doctor or healthcare provider, or a professional who specializes in pelvic floor health and rehabilitation.

Incontinence issues can affect self-image, self-confidence and quality of life. So, if you’re reading this please know that you are definitely not alone, or different in some weird way! Will you take the first small step, get curious, and seek help? The good news is that it’s never too late to retrain the pelvic floor and associated muscular system. These muscles are no different than others, they respond to strength training programs and techniques, as well as release techniques.  Yes, your pelvic floor muscles can be hypertonic (too tight) and need releasing before retraining.  People often assume that incontinence is due to hypotonic (weak muscles) which often it is, if you are not an athletic person. There’s so much more information I’d love to share with you!

In honour of World Continence Week, we at Alongside You, are promoting pelvic health, and offering our 6-week Progressive Series for pelvic floor rehabilitation by retraining and conditioning. Bookings start July 1st, 2017! There is help available, take the first step!

Please give me a call today at 604-283-7827 ext. 709 or email brenna@alongsideyou.ca to set up your appointment!

 

Introduction To Therapeutic Yoga – July 20th, 2016

therapeutic yoga at alongside you

Introduction To Therapeutic Yoga

Wednesday July 20th,  7:00-8:30pm

Location:  Alongside You – #203-4840 Delta Street, Ladner

Presenter:  Brenna Jacobson, Registered Fitness Professional, Therapeutic Yoga Instructor

Cost: $20 (plus GST) each participant

Click here to register now!

Curious about Therapeutic Yoga and whether it’s for you?

Come and join in this informational workshop that will explain how Therapeutic Yoga supports your individual needs. You will have the opportunity to ask questions, and experience some examples of what it involves as you are guided through some of the techniques used in specific circumstances.

We believe that this workshop will be eye opening as you discover this profoundly useful tool in restoring harmony and balance into your life.

Partners are welcome to attend. Private sessions available upon request to provide ongoing guidance for physical and emotional support.

** Please bring your own yoga mat **

Have questions? Please call Brenna at (604) 283-7827 ext. 8 or email brenna@alongsideyou.ca

Friday Night Knitting Club – June 17, 2016

friday night knitting club

 

 

Friday Night Knitting Club Is Back!

Friday, June 17th, 2016 from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm

The fourth Friday Night Knitting Club event is this Friday at our offices! If you’re not sure what the Friday Night Knitting Club is, you’re missing out! You’re invited to a casual evening of knitting and socializing in the heart of Ladner Village! If you have always wanted to try knitting, want to hang out while working on one of your pieces, or would like to share your stories and skills with others, this is the place for you! Bring your own yarn and needles or purchase yarn for $6 and needles for $1. Guidance for beginners will be available.

Admission is by donation. Coffee and tea will be provided, bring a treat to share if you like! Hope to see you there!

If you’d like to read the book that started it all, you can get a copy at Black Bond Books and mention this event to receive 10% off. Or, click here to buy your Kindle edition online in time for the event!

No tickets necessary, but if you’d like to let us know you’re coming, please let us know on our Facebook Event page, by clicking here!

All proceeds go toward our Step Forward Program, providing financial assistance to clients who may need some additional help subsidizing our services.

 

 

Friday Night Knitting Club - May 13, 2016 - 7pm-10pm

Friday Night Knitting Club – May 13, 2016

friday night knitting club

 

 

Friday Night Knitting Club Is Back!

Friday, May 13th, 2016 from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm

The fourth Friday Night Knitting Club event is this Friday at our offices! If you’re not sure what the Friday Night Knitting Club is, you’re missing out! You’re invited to a casual evening of knitting and socializing in the heart of Ladner Village! If you have always wanted to try knitting, want to hang out while working on one of your pieces, or would like to share your stories and skills with others, this is the place for you! Bring your own yarn and needles or purchase yarn for $6 and needles for $1. Guidance for beginners will be available.

Admission is by donation. Coffee and tea will be provided, bring a treat to share if you like! Hope to see you there!

If you’d like to read the book that started it all, you can get a copy at Black Bond Books and mention this event to receive 10% off. Or, click here to buy your Kindle edition online in time for the event!

No tickets necessary, but if you’d like to let us know you’re coming, please let us know on our Facebook Event page, by clicking here!

All proceeds go toward our Step Forward Program, providing financial assistance to clients who may need some additional help subsidizing our services.

 

 

Friday Night Knitting Club - May 13, 2016 - 7pm-10pm