Placentia event helps promote healthy minds

Lee Everts
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On May 6, residents of communities from around the Placentia area and Cape Shore gathered at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 33 in the Town of Placentia to recognize Mental Health Week.

Theresa Ryan is seen speaking during a Mental Health Week event in Placentia on May 6.

The well-attended event was hosted by the Placentia Area-Cape Shore Community Connections (PCCC).

For several years, the PCCC has hosted various events to recognize Mental Health Week. The guiding goal of the PCCC is to work with individuals and groups in order to strengthen the health of our communities. For several years, the particular focus has been on mental health and well-being. Such an objective perfectly chimes with the idea of Mental Health Week.

Since 1951, the Canadian Mental Health Association has commemorated Mental Health Week. The goal of the week is to spread the word about leading a mentally healthy lifestyle. The PCCC chose to share the importance of mental health at a supper for the residents of the communities in the Placentia area and Cape Shore.

To begin the evening, Mayor Wayne Power of the Town of Placentia proclaimed May 5-11 as Mental Health Week. And then, the delightful sounds of laughter and chatter punctuated the evening as everyone tucked into a scrumptious meal prepared by the members of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 33.

Following the meal, Priscilla Corcoran Mooney of the PCCC welcomed Theresa Ryan, who gave a presentation on anxiety, an issue with which many can identify. This topic plays a feature role in what happened to be the focus for Mental Health Week — women’s mental health.

Women experience mental health problems in a different way than men. While men may have a higher rate of addiction, women have a higher predominance of mood and anxiety disorders. Theresa Ryan has worked in pastoral care and mental health counselling for years and was happy to share her thoughts on this sometimes unwelcome challenge to good mental health.

Ryan explained how anxiety is something that crosses all lines such as age and sex. Although it is more prevalent in women, the question remains as to whether that difference is simply because women are more likely to express the problem than men. Regardless, anxiety is something that can feature in our lives for various reasons. It can be a genetic inheritance or due to a medical condition, as well as being the result of specific medications, caffeine, or alcohol. Otherwise, anxiety may be caused by a particularly traumatic experience.

One of the hallmark symptoms of anxiety is an irrational and excessive fear, almost a feeling of dread. Not all anxiety is necessarily bad, though. At times, it can motivate our actions. However, when it begins to seriously and negatively impact our lives, it hinders our mental health. At these times, it is best to seek help.

Albeit potentially serious, Ryan assured those in attendance that in many instances, it is possible to calm feelings of anxiety. It could be a matter of changing one’s diet, exercise, being positive when talking with oneself, or simply taking a bit of time to relax. Our mental health will be sure to benefit.

Given the questions and comments after her talk, Ryan's words were no doubt food for thought. After all, whether it is a mental illness or just a bad day, everyone has “mental health issues.” That is normal. To learn more, take a moment to visit http://www.understandnow.ca/.

— Lee Everts can be reached at the following: lee.everts@nf.sympatico.ca

Organizations: Placentia Area-Cape Shore Community Connections, Royal Canadian Legion, Ryan's

Geographic location: Placentia

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