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Mental Health Workshop Provides Wide Array of Knowledge

by Shanine Sealey

On Saturday, November 2nd, approximately 18 people gathered at Bravo Dance Co. to take part in a mental health workshop organized by Judy Jaunzems-Fernuk, B.Ed., M.Ed., PhD (Candidate) and Martensville resident Heather Isaac. Jaunzems-Fernuk noted that the group that attended came in interested in learning about managing and/or supporting mainly anxiety and depression related concerns, whether for themselves or for children in their care. “Participants expressed concerns around youth, from elementary through to high school, who have expressed or exhibited anxiety or suicidal ideation and they wanted to get ahead of this by engaging in activities that helped to build their own knowledge, as an awareness piece, and to act as knowledgeable mentors and advocates for young people.”

A number of the participants expressed interest in Jaunzems-Fernuk hosting a group workshop geared towards children and youth, which Jaunzems-Fernuk said she would be happy to participate in. “A smaller group setting can be conducive to unpacking essential avenues for coping and managing stress, and support building boundaries for effective peer support, when it comes to being there for others who may be struggling.”

A variety of topics were discussed throughout the day; however Jaunzems-Fernuk said that, “If there was one overall message for parents, youth and families, it would be that a tolerable amount of stress is good for us, and there are resources available in our communities for when we feel we cannot manage.” Some of these resources include: 911 for emergencies; 811 for health and mental health support; 211 Saskatchewan for emergency / crisis information; and others, including the children’s help phone and their text support lines (phone: 1-800-668-6868 and text: 686868); in addition to information available from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Mental Health and Addictions, intake and support services line, which can be reached at: 306-655-7777. “Each of the aforementioned numbers can connect anyone to appropriate help for the intervention needed, whether for yourself or a loved one. I noted the importance of sharing some of these numbers with children and family members so everyone has access to a lifeline if needed.”

Other topics covered included information about the difference between stress and distress, signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, how to support someone with on-going concerns – including supports for those in crisis, learning to build resilience, and much more. The group also learned about how by prioritizing their own health, they can make themselves more available and ready to support others. “When we are caught in a wave of emotion we should do one of three things: DISTRACT ourselves, DELAY any actions, or simply DO NOTHING until the sensation disappears; no mad, sad or scared decisions. Once we ride out the wave, if we continue to feel lost or hopeless, or if ill mental health persists, we should reach out.”

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