Earlier this year Providence Care celebrated Mental Health Week by focusing on wellness: how mental health is one component of overall health and well-being and how individuals can utilize peer support to help them on their journey to wellness.
Many of us are familiar with the statistic that 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime; however, what is less emphasized is that 5 in 5 Canadians have mental health. This is where our planning began for how to celebrate and bring awareness to Mental Health Week.
The thought was that everyone has lived experience with mental health (not just mental illness), and that everyone has a story to share. Our Mission at Providence Care speaks to enhancing the quality of life by meeting the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of each person. What this means is that we treat the whole person, not just the diagnosis or the illness.
There is an oft-quoted expression that says “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, meaning that examining something or someone’s individual components cannot give you a fulsome understanding of the whole. The same can be said for mental health and wellness.
Darcy Woods-Fournier, Senior Director of Hospital Mental Health, said that the choice to focus on wellness as opposed to illness was “quite deliberate”. “Wellness means different things to different people based on his/her own lived experiences”, she shared, “it is through sharing our experiences that we can inspire and nurture hope.”
Throughout the week a mural was displayed in the main lobby at Providence Care Hospital. Patients, clients, staff, physicians and volunteers were encouraged to sign, colour or leave messages of hope and inspiration for others to read. People were also encouraged to share tools that help them with their own wellness, whether this is a cherished quote or a favourite activity.
Another theme that helped to drive the planning of Mental Health Week was the power of peer support. “One of Peer Support South East Ontario’s values that we like to share is, ‘May you be well in your journey, have support when you require it, and find peace knowing you don’t travel it alone’”, shared Donna Stratton-Jinha. As part of Mental Health Week Donna and her coworkers from Peer Support visited inpatient units at Providence Care Hospital and resident home areas at Providence Manor to talk with patients, clients and residents about mental health and recovery. The conversations were rich and the impact was profound.
The completed mural was recently hung at Providence Care Hospital and we would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to this mural by colouring, leaving messages of hope, and sharing what wellness means to them.