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This has been a hard time.

Let’s just be honest about it. 

For some harder than others.  Nonetheless everyone has been exposed to new worries, difficulties and challenges because of the state of the world and personal circumstances.  We can see this even socially distanced.  Signs of these issues permeate even in the once friendly online spaces we occupy as we physically distance from one another.

The world feels like it is on fire. Issues abound. Pick your poison. Covid, climate, economics, education, inequity, governance, traffic! And without a lot of the things that keep us more grounded and in a better space.

Let’s add to that some other things.  A predicted second wave of Covid-19 (and restrictions related to it) as well as a normal uptick in mental health struggles that come in the winter months.

As a former social worker, clinical psychotherapist and child and youth worker I am very familiar with that last part.  These are months that tend to overwhelm mental health workers as struggles with mental health in community rise.

Recently in my role as a municipal councillor I hosted an online information session on mental health services any resident in the County of Brant can access.  I recorded that session and ask that you share it and refer people to it who may need to know what is actually available here for people struggling with mental health, addiction and crisis.  (https://vimeo.com/485607151)

I also plan on doing another in 2021 with other mental health service providers who couldn’t present at this time and will make that recording available as well.  It can help take down apprehension to accessing services to see real human faces – helping professionals – associated with these organizations before you even call.

One resident commented after the information session that she was unaware of all the services available and wondered if there was a database.  There are several but the easiest one to remember is 211.

211 works just like 411 but it is a free service all across Ontario and you can call it from any phone or free from a payphone as well as access it online at 211ontario.ca and get connected to any service.  Call, e-mail, use the live online text chat or search the database on your own and you will find the closest best service available. And if a needed service isn’t available to inquiry is sent to provincial decision makers to help guide the creation of new services.

In addition to that I also want to highlight two newer options right here in Paris.  St. Leonards has just started a free Mental Health Clinic for adults at the Optimist Club (2 Elm St) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 – 6PM and appointments can be made at 1-866-811-7188.  Also, Woodview is offering free mental health clinic times for youth up to 18 years and their families in Paris at Brant Mental Health Solutions (Downtown Paris) and you can call 519-752-5308 (Press 0) or text 226-920-4427 to book.  Both providers are also offering free virtual appointment options as well as a host of other services.

It is a tough time but there are also many options for help in our community.  Consider a mental health service as an option for you and your loved ones and if nothing else pop over to a note pad and write “211” just in case.

Wishing wellness and hope to you and yours this winter.