The Mental Health Commission of Canada reports only one in three people
who experience a mental health problem or illness actually seeks help; that
number decreases to one in four for youth and children.
So where can you start?
A first step is talking to your family physician. “They can rule out any
medical causes of symptoms that straddle mental illness and physical
illness,” says Dr. Laura Calhoun, the provincial medical director of Addiction
and Mental Health at Alberta Health Services. Today, more doctors are
knowledgeable about helping people deal with mental stresses.
Other resources include:
Phone services: call Health Link at 811 or 211 Alberta to find community
and social services near you.
Mental Health Helpline: call 1-877-303-2642 for confidential help 24/7,
information on mental health services or for referrals.
Crisis/Distress Line: call 780-482-4357 in northern Alberta and 403-266-
1605 in southern Alberta for confidential help, professional counselling or
referrals. You can also talk with someone online; visit distresscentre.com.
Suicide Prevention Hotline: call 1-800-784-2433 to talk to a professional.
Primary Care Networks: visit pcnpmo.ca. They can connect you to
community and professional services such as counselling.
Alberta Health: visit health.alberta.ca and search Addiction and Mental
health for a full list of programs and resources in Alberta.
Support network: share your feelings with supportive family, friends, faith
or cultural groups, work and school-based wellness programs.
TALKING IT OUT
Counselling is an effective treatment for many mental illnesses. It’s often called
talk therapy because you talk about specific problems and steps to resolve
them. Psychotherapy, another form of talk therapy, can help you understand
your behaviour, emotions and ideas around an illness, and how to change them.
It can help you manage mental health problems and illnesses.
Dr. Judi Malone, the director of education and communications
for the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta, is encouraged by a growing public
understanding around psychological wellness and a willingness to talk about it.
If you’re seeking care for your mental
health, you may be referred to one of
these professionals within Alberta’s
public healthcare system:
• Psychiatrist: A medical doctor
who specializes in diagnosing and
treating serious mental, emotional
and behavioural disorders such as
schizophrenia through counselling
• Psychologist: A mental health
professional who helps people
to manage issues, feelings and
behaviours through talk therapy.
• Counsellor: Includes therapists,
psychotherapists, and marriage
and family therapists who help
people manage mental well-being
and mental health problems.
• Mental health therapist: Includes
social workers, psychologists,
registered nurses, psychiatric
nurses and occupational
therapists. They work in teams to
diagnosis, treat, counsel and refer
people to other services.