Smoky skies may give some N.W.T. residents summer blues
Counselling avaliable for those feeling 'ripped off' by lost summer
For many in the Northwest Territories who brave the long, cold winters in anticipation of summer, weeks of forest fires and smoke are taking a toll on mental health.
Since June, Environment Canada has issued air quality warnings for Yellowknife and other N.W.T. communities. Health officials have advised people to stay inside if the smoke is irritating them.
I think people are starting to feel a little bit ripped off at this point.- Alana Kronstal
Because of this, some people haven't been able to enjoy the summer they look forward to all year.
"I think when there are restrictions to outside activities this can have a huge impact," says Kimberly Fairman, director of mental health and addictions with the N.W.T. Department of Health and Social Services.
"People can feel frustrated or that they've lost some aspect of their lifestyle that used to be within their control."
Fairman says mental wellness, especially for people who live in the north, is tied to getting outside and being active.
She says it's important for people to reach out and seek help if they need it. The Department of Health and Social Services has a community counselling program that's free to everyone in the territory for people who need extra support.
Alana Kronstal of Yellowknife says she grieves the camping and canoe trips that didn't happen this summer..
"I've kind of fallen into that depression as well. It was kind of the breaking point for people, the second black rain," she said.
"It's starting to feel like summer's wrapping up and we didn't really get one. I think people are starting to feel a little bit ripped off at this point."
She says venting is good therapy.
"Feeling OK about complaining about it, as opposed to trying to make the best of it... Just being honest that it's hard sometimes to just be indoors and not able to enjoy what little summer we usually get."
Kronstal says one thing she's looking forward to is clean fall air.