'Don’t go uncomfortably numb': CMHA Mental Health Week focuses on diving into tough feelings

The Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex Branch in Windsor, Ont. on Friday, May 29 2020 (Michelle Maluske/CTV Windsor)

The Canadian Mental Health Association wants people ‘get real’ about their emotions this mental health week by diving into their feelings instead of numbing them.

Monday is the start of CMHA Mental Health Week, and this year the organization is focusing on how understanding, expressing naming and dealing with our emotions can make feelings of sadness, anger and pain feel “less intense.”

“Unfortunately, ignoring our unpleasant feelings, and going numb, just makes them dig their heels in,” a news release from CMHA Windsor-Essex County Branch states. “They can take us on a scary rollercoaster and make it hard to get a hold on them. Emotion science tells us that naming how we feel helps put the brakes on.”

The organization says feelings of pain and anxiety during these pandemic times are intense. Recent CMHA research with the University of British Columbia found that 40 per cent of Canadians have experienced a mental health decline since the pandemic started.

While some have taken to the outdoors and nature to help cope with the stress, CMHA says one in five have turned to substances like drugs and alcohol.

“When we understand and work with our emotions, this helps protect our mental health, during tough times like the pandemic and throughout all stages of life,” the release says. “And, when we understand how we are feeling, we’re better able to understand and empathize with others, too. And that helps create a climate of support and acceptance.”

CMHA says heavy and painful feelings lighten when they are put into words, and is encouraging people, “don’t go uncomfortably numb” and to instead “#GetReal about how you feel. Name it, don’t numb it.”

CMHA Windsor-Essex has various virtual events for this year’s mental health week to help keep people together while separated.

Some events include:

  • Saturday, May 1 – The Garage Gym’s Virtual 5K for the Front Lines
  • Saturday, May 1 – Bridge 2 Bridge Marathon of Health
  • Tuesday, May 4 – Wake Up, Speak Up with Mark Henick
  • Thursday, May 6 – Ride Don’t Hide Launch
  • Weekly Wellness Wednesday Webinars

“This Mental Health Week, let’s say more than just ‘I’m fine.’ Let’s have real conversations with our friends, neighbours and coworkers about how we’re all really doing. We’re in this together,” says CMHA Windsor-Essex communications and mental health promotion director Kim Willis.

For more information on mental health activities planned visit the CMHA Windsor-Essex website.