May 26th, 2024

Mental Health Awareness Week begins with free workshop tonight

By BRENDAN MILLER on May 9, 2024.

Medicine Hat Family Services and the public library are hosting a variety of workshops and activities for Mental Health Awareness Week.--NEWS PHOTO BRENDAN MILLER

Residents living with depression or anxiety symptoms, or family and friends caring for loved ones struggling with mental health issues, are encouraged to attend a free workshop that will provide tools to navigate and cope with these issues.

Tonight, Medicine Hat Family Services is hosting a two-hour ‘strategies for anxiety and depression’ workshop at the public library’s theatre beginning at 6 p.m.

The workshop is part of Mental Health Awareness Week, which includes several programs and workshops focused on reducing stigma and increasing acceptance of mental health issues among all ages.

“We’re providing workshops on mental health in general,” says Miranda Leduc, adult and community librarian. “But we also have workshops on some mental illnesses as well. So there’s a difference between the two of those and we just want to support people at any part of their mental health journey.”

Tonight’s workshop will focus on the importance of erasing stigma around mental health issues and provide those who participate a supportive space to openly share experiences and find help without fear or judgement.

“I think it’s a big step when people come out and when they seek help,” says Nora Bassingthwaighte, director of programs and services with Medicine Hat Family Services. “I think it’s really important that people don’t struggle with anxiety and depression in silence, or without finding support. I think that’s so crucial in our community.”

Bassingthwaighte, who will be running tonight’s workshop, says there will also be useful information on how to support a friend or relative dealing with depression or anxiety.

“If you happen to be a friend or a relative trying to support somebody through those spaces it’s also important to be as informed as you possibly can so you know how to support as well in that space.” she says.

In addition to this evening’s workshop, the library will have service dogs attending its weekly community coffee from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, the library is hosting a wellness workshop in the Honeycomb House that will focus on mental health awareness for teenagers, and participants will collaborate to draw, write or create a large mural for mental health.

Furry felines from the SPCA will also be visiting the library Friday morning at 10 a.m.

Mental Health Awareness Week concludes Saturday with a screening of the movie Inside Out in the library theatre at 2 p.m.

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