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CMHA Mental Health Week puts focus on healing power of compassion


A Call to be Kind, because compassion connects us all.

That is the theme of the 73rd Canadian Mental Health Association's Mental Health Week, which is centred this year on the healing power of compassion. The week runs from May 6-12.

“Compassion is so important,” says Margaret Eaton, national CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association. “And we understand it to be recognizing suffering in someone else or in yourself and responding with kindness or care.”

A recent study by the CMHA found 92 per cent of Canadas claim to be compassionate, but only 38 per cent have taken active steps to alleviate the hardships they have faced over the past year. Sixty per cent of respondents admitted to not knowing how to be compassionate.

“In our survey people talking about showing compassion to others by making charitable donations or volunteering.” Eaton points out. “I also think there is ways we can show compassion to each other in our regular lives.”

One of those ways can be reaching out to a friend or family member suffering through the loss of a loved one.

“Those are real acts of compassion,” Eaton says. “Even if you’re not sure what to do just reach out, that connection alone can really be powerful in relieving suffering.”

Eaton says it’s important for Canadians to be aware of their own emotions to help combat this issue, and to set personal boundaries as to what you can and cannot do as to not put too much pressure on yourself.

Dr. Simon Sherry is a psychology professor at Dalhousie University and a practicing clinical phycologist at Crux Psychology. He says at least one in two Canadians have or currently are struggling with their mental health.

He says it doesn’t take much to boost someone’s sprits, even if it is only short lived.

“Even a simple compliment paid to another person, even a hello or a basic interaction with a stranger can boost your mood and help those around you,” Sherry says. “These little acts of kindness are anything, but they are actually quite important in our day to do day interactions.”

Some New Brunswick residents agreed a simple comment can go a long way.

“It feels amazing when somebody takes the time out of their day to make you the focal pint of their mind,” says Patrick Gordon, who works with Operation Feed. “It’s absolutely amazing and I think if people took more time out of their day to do random acts of kindness for people we would probably have a much nicer environment.”

“It makes me feel good and makes me want to be kind to someone else,” admits Glen Waterworth. “I think it’s more important than ever because people are struggling so I think we should be kind to each other because it makes people happy and it really is important right now.”

“You don’t know what they are going through in today’s society, especially in Saint John,” notes resident Ryan Nice. “It can just be pretty depressing and you can pick someone up pretty quickly with just a simple coffee and donut.”

An act of kindness can be something as small as smiling at someone as they walk by, saying thank you, or even holding the door open for a stranger.

The Etiquette Guy” Jay Remer points out being kind doesn’t take much effort.

“If you just think about what the other person like would to hear, like to see, and it’s not a big commitment,” he says. “A smile walking down the street is not a commitment so little things like that can make others peoples day good and when you do that you make yourself feel better too.”

Another thing Remer, along with Eaton and Sherry, highlights is the act of self kindness and compassion.

“We’re way to rough on ourselves,” Remer says. “We beat ourselves up forgetting that we are human and we all have these foibles. I just think it is really important to think about these things, even getting them into your brain and thinking about them on a regular basis is a big step forward for a lot of people.”

Eaton reminds those struggling there is always help available for those who want it.

“You don’t need to suffer alone,” Eaton says. “Please reach out for help.” Top Stories

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