March 26th, 2019

Mental Health Matters: Reaching out is one the best ways to take care of yourself

By Medicine Hat News on January 12, 2019.

With it being a new year many people are creating New Year’s resolutions. Common resolutions include eating healthier, exercising more, saving money, quitting a bad habit, or learning a new skill or hobby. However, one resolution you may want to consider for the new year is reaching out for help more. Reaching out for help has many benefits. Sharing your struggles with others can help you work through your feelings and thoughts and put things in perspective so your problems don’t seem as large as you think they are, and most importantly allow you to not feel so alone. Reaching out for help is one of the best ways to take care of yourself, yet it is something we often do the least.

There are many reasons why people have a hard time reaching out for help and sharing personal struggles. Some of these reasons include believing you can do everything on your own; not wanting to burden or inconvenience someone with your problems; thinking you are weak if you can’t do it alone; the fear of being imperfect, believing others will think less of you; not wanting to show vulnerability; or being so used to being the helper and not the helped that the role of the acceptor of help is uncomfortable.

However, part of being human is having limitations. No one can do it all. That is why we form committees to run organizations and have world leaders who have teams of people supporting them. Together we can accomplish things we absolutely could not do alone.

We often strive for independence and feel if we ask for help that makes us weak and dependent. However, another part of being human is being social. We are social creatures and are not meant to do it alone. We are actually wired to connect with other people. The goal really should be healthy interdependence, not complete independence. In fact, reaching out for help shows strength not weakness. It takes strength to be vulnerable and admit you are struggling and need help.

As well, when we don’t ask for help and instead just attempt to do things on our own, we’re missing out on an opportunity to build connections with others. It can actually be quite a compliment to ask someone else for their help. Give the gift of asking someone close to you for help and let them feel validated in the fact that you see them as someone who could help, and that you felt close enough to them to be able to share your struggles.

One way you can reach out for help is by attending a support group. Support groups are a safe place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand what you’re going through. Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta South East Region offers a variety of support groups including:

Whispers of Wellness (WOW) Peer Support Group — a free open group for people living with mental health issues. Offered every Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at CMHA.

Caregiver Connections Drop-in Support Group — a free open group for parents and caregivers of children or young adults experiencing a mental health concern. Offered every Monday evening from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at CMHA.

Hope & Healing After Suicide Support Group — a nine-week closed group for families and friends who have lost someone to suicide which is offered twice a year. Next session dates TBA, registration fee $15.

Living Life To The Full — an eight-week closed group to help people sleep better, feel happier, have more energy, gain confidence, get out more, enjoy better relationships, and help others. To find out more visit http://www.llttf.ca. Next group is scheduled for Jan. 24-March 21, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at CMHA. Cost: $40 (subsidies available).

To register for any of these groups contact Canadian Mental Health Association at 403-504-1811 or email aser@cmha-aser.ca.

Erin Reeder is the suicide prevention program coordinator at Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Southeast Region and can be reached at 403-504-1811. To find out more about CMHA programs visit http://www.cmha-aser.ca. If you are in crisis, call the Distress Centre at 1-800-784-2433.

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