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Exploring Mental Health Through Open and Accessible Conversations

By: CJ McGillivray

Published On: March 18, 2021

Modern western society puts so much emphasis on wealth and success, but what about our mental health and wellness? How much of your mental energy and time do you spend focusing on your mental health? How often do you engage in vulnerable or challenging conversations with your friends or colleagues? Everyone will have different answers to such personal questions, which is completely normal. What do we know for sure? We can all benefit from more compassion and reduced stigma around mental health.

Maybe you are not personally struggling with your mental health, but perhaps your friend or colleague is going through a tough time and you are not sure how to respond. Chances are that you or someone you love has gone through ups and downs relating to mental health, particularly over the last year. The global pandemic has exacerbated a lot of mental health challenges that people were already facing, through increased isolation and unexpected changes in routine. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, take a moment to consider your relationship with mental health awareness and education. Having more supportive and accessible conversations about mental health is beneficial for your family, your friend circle and even your school or workplace.

Checking In

How can you personally shift the conversation and start exploring mental health in a brand new way? Look at your social circles and critically examine how you can show up for people in a compassionate way. Start with something small. For example, there are so many ways to check in with someone. Send someone a message or pick up the phone and reach out. Consider how you can personally make it easier for the other person to feel safe and secure in sharing their reality with you. Having a friendly tone and keeping the conversation free of judgement is a great place to start. If you are in need of support for yourself, be sure to check out this list of mental health resources from the Canadian Centre for Mental Health and Support.

Workplace Conversations

Organizations and individuals can take some simple and immediate steps to compassionately address mental health in the workplace. Leaders can model healthy behaviours by being open, vulnerable, and by connecting more profoundly with their teams. In his recent article for Forbes Magazine, mental health advocate and educator David Plans advised workplace leaders to have deeper conversations that acknowledge the effects of the ongoing pandemic. These conversations can do wonders to reduce stigma, create a safe and welcoming place for employees, increase employee retention and leave a lasting positive impact on others.

Exploring Education

Whether or not you have personally overcome mental health challenges in your life, there are so many opportunities for compassionate and thoughtful people to build a career in the mental health sector. There is always a societal need for counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses and mental health advocates. If you are inspired to support people who are affected by addiction and substance use, consider completing a mental health and addictions support worker certificate program through a qualified educational institute. A typical program will focus on building foundational skills for client treatment and rehabilitation. Students often learn about the broad range of perspectives that contextualize mental health challenges and addiction. Beyond such concepts, an addictions and mental health program will explore harm reduction efforts, risk factors and warning signs, coping mechanisms and concurrent disorders. The most important thing is helping students get a framework and foundation to properly support individuals and communities. Addiction affects people around the globe from all walks of life. Especially during a global pandemic, more needs to be done to support the people who are suffering.

Virtual Solutions

Although taking the first steps to treat mental health may seem daunting, more therapists have shifted to online models for better accessibility during the pandemic. You or someone you know could try out virtual therapy as an easy and accessible option during the pandemic. Unsure where to start? Global News has a helpful guide for how to pair yourself up with the right virtual therapist.

There are also countless recovery programs and support groups that have pivoted to an online platform in the last year. Check out this straightforward article from Verywell Mind detailing how you or someone you know can find a recovery support group.

Immediate Support

If you or perhaps someone you know is struggling, there is immediate support available. Head over to the Canadian Centre for Mental Health and Support for a carefully curated list of mental health resources for youth and adults across Canada in need of support. There is no shame in reaching out and asking for help.


The information contained in this post is considered to be true and accurate as of the date of publication. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog.


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