FREDERICTON (GNB) – New Brunswickers are encouraged to take the time to reflect on their mental health during Mental Health Week, May 1-7.

The week is an annual national event organized by the Canadian Mental Health Association and takes place during the first week in May to encourage people from all walks of life to learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on issues relating to mental health.

“Your government is listening and knows that access to good quality health care, including mental health care, is important to New Brunswickers,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. “Without good mental health, New Brunswickers are at greater risk of developing addictions, mental illness and chronic diseases. I invite all New Brunswickers to join me in speaking up, reaching out, and raising awareness about mental health during the week and throughout the year.”

This year marks the 66th annual Mental Health Week. During the week, the Canadian Mental Health Association encourages people to reflect on their own attitudes towards mental health. Reducing discrimination and stigma is paramount so that people no longer feel shame due to a mental illness and will not wait to seek the support and help they need.

“Mental Health Week offers us an opportunity to bring mental health to the forefront of people's minds,” said Christa Baldwin, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick. “We need to improve the availability of supports, but doctors and medications can only take us so far. To create a mentally healthy province, there is a need for adequate housing, employment, psychologically safe workplaces, and financial security. People need counselling and psychotherapy, community-based interventions and social supports that are not funded. Children need school curriculum and school supports that can help prevent mental illness. This kind of mental health promotion and illness prevention can help prevent New Brunswickers from ending up in emergency departments and hospital beds.”

The week promotes mental health awareness through education campaigns, activities and events throughout New Brunswick, and offers ways to maintain and improve mental health and support recovery.

New Brunswickers are encouraged to speak up, be there for a friend, get help, promote healthier workplaces, host an event, get creative, donate, or use the hashtag #GETLOUD on social media to promote mental health.

Supporting those with addictions and mental health challenges is a pillar of the New Brunswick Family Plan framework. The framework plan aims to improve the lives of residents by addressing the factors that have the greatest impact upon health and well-being. It focuses government action in seven priority areas: improving access to primary and acute care; promoting wellness; supporting people with addictions and mental health challenges; fostering healthy aging and support for seniors; advancing women’s equality; reducing poverty; and supporting people with disabilities.