Mental health workers were at local business Bread Milk and Honey to kick off Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Mental health professionals were at local coffee shop Bread Milk and Honey on Oct. 2 and Oct. 4. This was part of a broader initiative run by Alberta Health Services and the Canadian Mental Health Association to support Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Katie Wieler, tobacco reduction counsellor at Addiction and Mental Health Services, and David Gabert, communications lead and project coordinator with the Canadian Mental Health Association, stood at the back of the packed coffeehouse beside informational posters that highlighted facts on mental illness. They placed information for support services and discussion starters at each table, to help initiate conversation between patrons.
“It’s not always comfortable for people to come to us at a display like this, so by putting it out there at the table, it gives them their own space to look at it in,” said Wieler.
Coffee shops such as Bread Milk and Honey can help reduce the stigma around mental illness by providing a casual space where people can openly engage in discussions.
“Alberta Health Services approached us and it really made sense for us to help bring this issue to the public,” said Michael Kimpe, owner of Bread Milk and Honey. “Ultimately, we’re a community café, and this is part of our way to help connect the community with resources out there.”
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, in any given year, one in five people in Canada will experience a mental health problem.
“(Mental illness) is any kind of mental health issue that someone might have,” said Wieler. “It can range from schizophrenia to depression or anxiety. It’s any sort of illness that negatively impacts your mental health.”
If you, or someone you know is struggling, Alberta Health Services officials want you to know you’re not alone. Anyone looking for help can call the Mental Health Helpline, toll free, at 1-877-303-2642.