It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week. The national campaign coincides with a two-day suicide prevention workshop at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in Prince George.
The ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) program is teaching 20 registered people:
• How to recognize those at risk of suicide
• How to talk to them, hear their stories and understand their situations
• Help them keep safe
• Connect them to community supports and resources
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, one in five people experience a mental health problem or illness. Out of the 4,000 Canadians who die by suicide each year, most suffered with mental health problems.
Devon Flynn, the Regional Coordinator of the North for the CMHA Gatekeeper Program, says mental health illnesses are especially an issue in rural areas because there is not as much access to supports. “It’s very difficult in rural organizations. For example, my trainers just provided ASIST training in Dease Lake. They had to drive 2 days there and 2 days back. While Dease Lake–the community– was very happy to have us there, they really showed an example of how difficult it is to get mental health services. Usually the norm is a mental health worker or counselor will go to these rural communities twice a month sometimes. That’s just not ideal.”
Flynn would like to see people get involved with the #b4stage4 campaign. “This is about asking for support from your local government, signing a declaration that shows you want support for mental health the same way we treat physical health. That is we don’t want physical health to get past that stage 4 where it’s too late. We want to treat mental health the same way.”
The campaign already has over 4,000 signatures.
People and organizations wanting to partake in an ASIST program can contact the CMHA in Prince George.