Let’s Talk… Mental Health

Posted by: Gloria Pynn BA, BEd, MEd, CCC, RPsych on February 4, 2019 1:33 pm

I am honored to share my humble voice, musings, and learnings as a certified counsellor and registered psychologist. I have been a counsellor for 25 years. I hope you identify with and find something in my words – a few takeaways to help you reflect on and use in your daily practice.

There are many community initiatives bringing mental health into our collective consciousness. Amazing community partners are attempting to #endthestigma, and are holding many essential conversations about the prevalence, needs and impact of mental health. Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk Day” is one national push towards mental health awareness and a major source of fundraising to support these goals. In the spirit of such events and the aims of our CCPA Connect Blog, I decided to write on mental health and my general counselling perspective.

Mental health is all about people and life. Each individual’s personal life experience is different and each road to wellness and peace a very personal and unique journey.

It all starts with a person’s story like the following on kidshelpphone.ca. One person’s story – less than two minutes to read but enlightening how young children can start to experience mental health difficulties and the positive impact of support. Click here to read Emma O’Hare’s story.

Every story is unique, requiring an individual exploration and journey to wellness. The story emerges and well intentioned, we all too often jump to “How can we fix?” With this mindset, how can anyone as family, friends even ourselves as counsellors and psychotherapists help Someone has felt safe enough to trust you to share their story and issues. The following link presents a few ways anyone can help if a person confides in you regarding their issues and mental health (via Kids Help Phone).

Most importantly, we should always encourage the person to connect, engage or re-engage a team of professionals or seek professional help.  Sometimes that is difficult, and people can refuse or encounter difficulties in accessing help. In spite of this and perhaps because of this, we always need to work together to encourage the fight to access professional help and support – employee assistance programs, medical, psychiatry, individual counselling – any supports or services tailored to an individual’s needs and issues. The CCPA constantly advocates for access to counselling services. We all walk among very compassionate family, friends and staff in general who are there to help and listen but we must also be mindful of the need for expert supports. Many situations require the support and help of professionals such as certified counsellors and psychotherapists. The journey to mental health is very individual and takes more than one day and one campaign. We have to continue helping people talk and sharing stories, in protective safe spaces and always with an eye to our own life stories as counsellors.

I always stress SAFETY with my fellow educators, students and caregivers, as there are times people need immediate and direct intervention. At any point, if you feel an individual or others around them are not SAFE, the best help you can offer sometimes is to honestly say, this is bigger than me and you right now, WE need immediate medical help or interventions. Engage police and or medical intervention ER, wellness checks as needed. The brutal reality is we can all lose people to suicide or homicide (myself included). Always then, look to your own self-care and mental health as a counsellor, partner, parent, and human being. Vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue are real things that we all must bear in mind to be well and at peace.

In my opinion, the most important element toward all mental health is finding and giving VOICE.  People have to think about and discover what they need and then give voice to their needs in whatever way they can. The counselling process and counsellor’s work then continues to explore and walk alongside an individual’s path leads toward wellness one step at a time. We can try to support, comfort as friends, colleagues, family member, and people but truly each one of us (client and counsellor) has to agree to embark on that unique journey to find our own voice. We need to build inherent strengths to learn to write, whisper, speak and at times fight for what each person needs to be well in their world. Our work as counsellors is to help each individual find these inner strengths, listen, guide, support and challenge thinking toward a more peaceful and well existence.

Personally, I believe different mediums in counselling (art, written, spoken word, song) “spark joy” (sorry Marie Kondo is everywhere) and resonate with each individual. Use each person’s strengths, gifts and joys to help them journey toward wellness and peace.

Here is a song about VOICE I have listened to with many counselling clients in various parts of that journey…. I hope you enjoy! The choice to embark on the journey to wellness is always brave. “Brave” by Sara Bareilles.

Let’s help others and ourselves to be brave, start to find our way, and share our voices and stories a little more each day. Your path is your own but know, you are never alone.

Think, talk and always take care,
Gloria

Brave Sara Bareilles

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

Innocence, your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
I just wanna see you
See you be brave

Songwriters: Jack Antonoff / Sara Bareilles

Brave lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

2 comments on “Let’s Talk… Mental Health”

  1. Gloria Pynn says:

    Thank you Wendy Dooley for the insightful comment and indeed self reflection is so important in our counselling practices. Congrats on your recent graduation and future endeavours.

  2. Wendy Dooley says:

    Many great points in this article that a new counsellor can utilize. As a recent Masters graduate in counselling psychology, I am very aware of the need for counsellors to be mindful of each clients unique story. Often society, peers, co-workers and even counsellors can be quick to judge situations. The authors comment about an individual’s journey is so true and should be respected within the counselling relationship.

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