Although those trendy “self-care” activities like flower-picking and taking more naps may seem tempting, self-care and mental health is really more serious than that. Did you know that according to Statistics Canada, 1 in 3 people experience mental illness in their lifetime? This is frequent enough for that person to be someone you see every day—a family member, a classmate, a co-worker, a friend, me. I have struggled with mental health my whole life. At the age of eight, my parents decided against taking me to a child psychologist because nothing was really “wrong” with me. At the age of ten, I was vocal about wanting to die. Age eleven was when I developed an eating disorder that went undiagnosed for twelve years as I was always thin. I was sneaky with food, avoided eating with people, wore baggy clothing, and started to over-exercise. Physical self-harm also came into my life around this time too. From ages nineteen to twenty-two I found myself in and out of doctor’s offices, group therapy sessions, counsellor’s offices and in the psych ward of the hospital, all while being on and off two different anti-depressants. Now, at twenty-three I see a counsellor every week and take Lexapro every day. I’m alive and stable.
This journey took a while for me to start seeing the results I wanted to see. It took one psychiatrist, two different medications, three counsellors, many assessments, and a countless number of self-help books for this growth to start showing. There’s a lot more to therapy than what is portrayed in the media. Every week, my past and present are discussed and then different healthy coping techniques are introduced to help prevent similar things from happening in my future. Every week I walk away with new resources, skills, and homework to complete before my next session.
The right people make all the difference. If you don’t get along with or trust the medical professionals that are helping you then you aren’t going to get anywhere. It might even turn you away from getting help if you have a negative experience. The right people are in the field though, you just have to find the ones who are right for you. You also have to take control and responsibility for your own mental health. You know what is best for you and must respect your limits as well as your needs when seeking help with mental health. In order to break the stigma surrounding mental health people need to normalize talking about it. When people are brave enough to speak openly about mental health issues, they help lessen the stigma around mental health that is unfortunately still present in our society.
Here are some local resources available to help you
The idea of needing help but not knowing where to go is often overwhelming and can prevent many people from getting the support they need. However, there are resources within the area that are qualified to provide you with assistance in many different forms. These resources help dozens of people and are invested in the relationship with and success of their clients, working as a team to provide the utmost care. If you or someone you know is struggling or seems like they are struggling, reach out to them and/or consider the following resources:
Alternatives: East York Mental Health Counselling Services Agency
Address: 1245 Danforth Ave, Toronto ON, M4J 1M8
Phone: (416) 285 7996
Serving: Ages 16+, Within the East York Area
Alternatives is a local service that offers case judgement, criminal justice, mental health counselling, housing services, LGBTQ+ services, peer support, recovery information, amongst others. Upon visiting Alternatives myself, I was able to talk briefly with a male patient, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Alternatives has helped me recover from something I thought I would never come back from. My life has truly changed for the better thanks to the wonderful staff here, and I am eternally grateful. Even my friends and family have noticed a positive improvement in my mood and behaviors! I just finally feel like I’m getting my life back on track,” he says cheerfully.
Alternatives prides itself on recovery-oriented values such as self-determination, advocacy, hope, positivity and change for the better.
YouthCan Impact and EMYS Mental Health Walk-In Counselling Clinic (East Danforth) *FREE
Address: 1871 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON, M4C 1J3
Phone: (416) 690 1888
Serving: Ages 0-29 and their families
YouthCan Impact, in their own words, is “a collaboration initiative of youth, families, community agencies, primary care partners and hospitals in Toronto who work together to improve the youth mental health and addiction system,” (2017) and are dedicated to providing youth-friendly services that aid in both self-care and recovery. They are consistently doing research and fundraisers to better their program and services. Their Walk-in Mental Health Clinic requires no fee, no appointment, and no health card and will provide support for depression, anxiety, family conflict, school and work stress, sexual and/or gender identity, and relationships.
Address: 889 Broadview Avenue, Toronto ON, M4K 2P9
Phone: (647) 348 5140
Serving: all ages
Broadview Psychology is a counselling center consisting of a group of clinicians that tackle a modern approach to counselling by using evidence-based practice. This means that the techniques they use have evidence of being effective within treatment. This resource offers support for both mental health as well as other difficult life circumstances. Broadview Psychology has a range of individual and group services including cogitative behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, trauma and emotion-based therapy, as well as nutrition and fitness counselling.
It is important to take care of yourself mentally and know that progress comes one step at a time. There are alternatives to going in and talking to someone. Below is a list of other resources that can be contacted over telephone.
Suicide Prevention (24 Hours): 1 (780) 743–HELP (4357)
Toronto Distress Centre: (416) 408–HELP (4357)
Good2Talk (anonymous helpline for students): 1 (866) 925–5454 (24hrs)
Assaulted Women’s Helpline: (416) 863–0511, Toll Free: 1 (866) 863–0511
Kids Help Phone: 1 (800) 668–6868 (English and French language)
LGBTQ+ Helpline: 1 (800) 268–9688, Text Message: (647) 694–4275