Mental Health Week (MHW) was first introduced in 1951 by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Recovery from mental health illness is only part of what MHW strives to support, it also offers ways to improve and maintain good mental health in our day to day lives. Mental Health Week has always strived to build awareness and to improve Canadian’s attitudes and behaviours toward people suffering from mental health issues, reducing stigma and discrimination.
Running from May 4th -10th, this year’s focus is the mental well-being of men and boys. It encourages us all to reflect on how we see ourselves and our bodies. The subject of body image has been primarily thought of as a female issue. This year Mental Heal Week reminds us that the pressures of looking good and being “attractive” also applies to men. A person’s body image is the mental picture of themselves and may not be what they actually see or how other people see them.
Our image of ourselves can be shaped by our cultures and environments. It is also heavily influenced by the media and advertising. These depictions often set unrealistic expectations for our body image and can have a negative effect on our mental health as it is often tied to one’s self esteem.
Mental Health Week encourages us to have a positive body image. It reminds us that our physical appearance does not define who we are and our self-worth. We should feel comfortable and confident in our body and speak positively about ourselves, by avoiding saying things like “I look fat” or “I wish I looked bigger or stronger”.
So what qualifies as a Mental Illness?
Mental Illness is broad term that encompasses a number of conditions that affects our minds. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, the term could describe anything from mood disorders such as depression and bipolar, eating disorders such anorexia or bulimia, to dementia and schizophrenia.