Getting Loud on Mental Health

By: Cheryl

**MCIS originally posted this blog in May 2019 to bring awareness to Mental Health Week. Given the ongoing pandemic and an increase in mental health crises around this time of year, we felt that it was important to repost this article with some updates.**

COVID-19 has brought many changes within our lives, forcing us to adapt and integrate ourselves from within our homes. The global pandemic has reshaped our lives causing anxiety, depression and trauma, due to factors such as uncertainty of the future, lack of stability, limited social interactions, etc. A report issued by Deloitte in August 2020 called Uncovering the hidden iceberg explores how the crisis is creating mental stress for many Canadians because of isolation leading to loneliness and depression, and sustained proximity to household members creating interpersonal strains or in worse-case scenarios, abuse. The report mentions that Canada could experience a two-fold increase in visits to mental health professionals and possibly a 20% increase in prescriptions for antidepressants relative to pre-COVID-19 levels. Thus, taking care of our bodies and mental health is extremely imperative especially during these times.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), mental health is ubiquitous. Just like physical health, we all ‘have’ it; some of us may have poorer mental health, due to the presence of some mental illness, but we are all impacted by it and able to feel mental health via our wellbeing. Extending this to the mental illness and disorders, if you are to prescribe to a relatively newer way of thinking among psychologies and other professionals in the mental health area, mental distress can be viewed as something that exists on a spectrum shared with normality, how ever you might wish to define normal. This is all l to say there is no one single thing that mental health should be. While a professional athlete at the peak of his or her career exemplifies excellent physical health, it is hard to come by an analogous example of someone’s mental health, because mental health is just so malleable. It is a somewhat cloudy topic, but one that needs to be discussed.

The 2016 Canadian census found that more than 1 in 5 Canadians are foreign-born and arrived in Canada via immigration; 72.5 percent of immigrants reported a non-English-French mother tongue. Immigration to Canada continues, as does refugee entry. Mental health may be a hard concept to understand from a Canadian newcomer unable to speak either of the official languages, originated from a country where mental health is a tabooed topic, highly stigmatized and, often mischaracterized. The CMHA’s perspective on mental health is that everyone has it. So then, everyone should also be able to discuss it, improve it, and increase their understanding of it.

The CAMH Foundation says that Ontario’s mental health care is underfunded by billions of dollars, and so individuals in an already vulnerable state may have a difficult time accessing services that they gravely need. Nevertheless, mental health professionals understand the importance of increasing accessibility of services with changing the population’s needs. As such, CAMH and MCIS had teamed up to create a series of online tutorials for Interpretation in Mental Health and Autism Settings. Students enrolled in this course are taught a glossary of terms relevant to the field of mental health, practice these terms in context, and learn about protocols and procedures in mental health settings. Interpreters should also be mindful of their mental health and welling. In April of 2020, MCIS has also shared an article on the ‘Cost of Caring’ covering the vicarious trauma that language professionals can sometimes face following interpretation assignments covering traumatic topics.

If you or someone you know is struggling, MCIS has also curated some mental health resources related to COVID-19that are available on our website. These resources include MCIS Mental Health and Well-being Webinars, OHIP-Covered Psychotherapists, Affordable Psychotherapy, Agencies, Free Online Courses, and Mental Health Programs/Webinars.