Global News just reported that the Bank of Canada has cut their key interest rates, as the “economy falls into recession” (July 15, 2015). For those working in mental health (and other helping professions), this is sobering news. Mental health service providers know that this kind of news – and reality – can be devastating to individuals and their families. Quite frequently, when there is an economic downswing (i.e. a recession) there can also be an increase in the rates of  economic related suicides.  

Whether someone has just quit their job, been fired from their job, or survived a large company layoff, the word “recession” can trigger anxiety. Being out of work – and money – can be stressful. And, while not always as obvious,  a high level of stress can also be experienced by the  “lucky” employees, who survive large company layoffs. These employees are often left to take on the work of their recently fired peers.  And, concurrent to this additional work, they are also left to worry if their jobs will be next – which does not make for a trusting or healthy work environment.

Recessions can definitely take a toll on people – financially, physically and emotionally. With this, it becomes important that people consider shoring up more than just their finances, in order to weather a period of recession. Shoring up ones physical and emotional reserves might be equally – if not more – important. With that said, listed below are ten tips, from the CMHA, for supporting good mental health. However, it is important to note that, more often than not, “poor and unequal living conditions are the consequence of poor social policies and programmes, unfair economic arrangements, and bad politics”. With this in mind, please note that the following list provides solutions that people can implement in their personal lives, but it does not provide solutions to address the systemic issues that creates or exacerbates these conditions/ the need for this list*.  

10 TIPS FOR SUPPORTING GOOD MENTAL HEALTH*

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  1. Build confidence. Identify your abilities and weaknesses together, accept them, build on them and do the best with what you have.
  2. Eat right, keep fit. A balanced diet (to the extent that your budget can support this), exercise and rest can help you to reduce stress and improve your mood.
  3. Make time for family and friends.These relationships need to be nurtured; if taken for granted they will not be there to share life’s joys and sorrows.
  4. Give and accept support. [Sometimes] friends and family relationships thrive when they are “put to the test”.
  5. Create a meaningful budget.Financial problems can cause “extreme” stress. And, over-spending on our “wants” instead of our ‘needs” can sometimes exacerbate financial stress. Also, learn about the Food Banks, and other social services, in your community.
  6. Volunteer.Being involved in the community can give a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
  7. Manage Stress. We all have stressors in our lives, but learning how to deal with them when they threaten to overwhelm us will help maintain our mental health.
  8. Find strength in numbers.Sharing a problem with others who have had similar experiences my help you find a solution and will make you feel less isolated.
  9. Identify and deal with moods.We all need to find safe and constructive ways to express our feelings of anger, sadness, joy and fear.
  10. Learn to be at peace with yourself.Get to know who you are, what makes you really happy, and learn to balance what you can and cannot change about yourself/life.

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