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COLUMN: Time to focus on our mental health supports

Time to change the discussion on mental health, says Fraser-Nicola MLA
Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart at a virtual swearing-in on Nov. 27. Photo credit: Lori Pilon

As we enter the fall season, the colder and darker months can be a time when many of us can face challenges to our mental health. In a year that has brought so much anxiety, grief, separation, and loss for so many of us here in Fraser-Nicola, it is vital that we continue the conversation about mental health and, more importantly, how we address these challenges and support one another in this time of need.

The year 2021 has truly been a year like no other. As our communities continue to face the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have struggled to keep their businesses open. Then came one of the most horrific wildfire seasons on record, one that lead to mass evacuations, destroyed livelihoods, homes, and tragically, even claimed lives.

In my years serving as your MLA, I have never faced so much grief or heartache for the land and towns we call home. Through the physical challenges we have all faced together, have come unprecedented mental and emotional challenges — challenges that can make us feel lost and alone. But these are best overcome if we tackle them the same way we have tackled everything this year has thrown at us — together, as a community.

Now is the time to take care of ourselves and each other, reach out to those we care about to make sure they are okay, begin the discussion about our mental health, and never forget that there are resources available for those who need them. Our province is blessed with some incredible organizations, including the Canadian Mental Health Association, BounceBackBC, Anxiety Canada, Foundry BC, HealthlinkBC, CrisiscentreBC, who are all ready to help — and never forget that you can always call 311-MENTAL for immediate mental health help and support in a time of crisis.

Together, let’s change the discussion about mental health and show British Columbians that it’s okay to talk when we’re not okay.

–Jackie Tegart is the MLA for the Fraser-Nicola