Mental health services for Gaspé anglophones get financial boost

Organizations that provide mental health services to anglophones in the Gaspé region will count on additional funding in 2019 to expand services and reach out to more people in need.

New funding will make services more readily available for English speakers

Several organizations are partnering with the Mental Health and Wellness Task Force to put in place more mental health services for English speakers in the Gaspé region. (Radio-Canada)

Organizations that provide mental health care services to English speakers in the Gaspé region will be able to reach out to more people in 2019, thanks to new funding.

The initiative will allow organizations to expand their networks and make sure users know where to turn for help if they need it.

"I think one of the things that happens with a lot of anglophones is we tend to think 'Oh that service probably isn't available here,'" said Cynthia Dow, the chairperson of the local Mental Health and Wellness Task Force coordinating the new initiative.

A $10,000 grant from the Bell Let's Talk Community Fund will allow a widespread awareness campaign to talk about mental health and wellness, and push through taboos, Dow said.

A series of events and conferences will be held across the Gaspé peninsula next year to reach as many citizens as possible.

"There's still that stigma out there that we don't talk about these things in public and that means that often we don't get the information we need or the help we need to deal with mental illness," Dow said.

Organizations such as the Committee for Anglophone Social Action (CASA), Eastern Shores School Board and Vision Gaspé-Percé Now will use the money to create programs that focus on prevention and overall wellness, for example by giving tips on how to reduce stress.

With an added $60,416 from the federal government over the next two years, Dow said more partnerships will be built with their French counterparts.

This will open up more possibilities for shared services, when bilingual employees are available.

Community spirit for the holidays

Talking about the mental health just ahead of the holiday season is an opportunity to open the door to important conversations, said Dow, at a time that can be difficult for people who are far from their families or who have lost a loved one.

"We're just asking people to have a thought for those who might be isolated or struggling, and reach out, maybe invite someone for Christmas dinner or go visit," said Dow.

Cynthia Dow, the chair of the Mental Health and Wellness Task Force in the Gaspé region, hopes the campaign will inform people where they can get mental health support. (Radio-Canada)

She said despite the stigma, there has been a shift in Canadian society that allows those kinds of conversations to be more open and honest.

"There's a greater awareness of the fact that some people are really suffering and we don't just want to talk about mental illness either," said Dow, adding that moments of loss and mourning can affect people in different ways.

"Everybody suffers losses and there are so many things that we can do and tools that we can use to help reduce suffering when we're going through a challenge like a loss."

With files from Quebec AM

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