Talking about it and making mental health more of an issue that people aren't afraid to discuss openly was the focus of today's (October 10) World Mental Health Day.  

Kim Titus of Airdrie's Thumbs Up Foundation believes that a day that recognizes the issue is a worldwide problem is important both locally in Airdrie and around the world.

"The more we talk about it, the more awareness that we create, the more exchanges.  It absolutely is important."

Titus feels that when someone realizes that today is "World" Mental Health Day, it will go a long way toward helping people talk about many of the issues that they, and others, are facing.

"A World Mental Health Day just shows you the global impact of mental health. It's awareness on all the levels.  It's the breadth and the depth of it that a world mental health day suggests to me.  It can't help but help us locally for our efforts and what we're trying to do in the community."

The World Health Organization's (WHO) focus for the day is on young people and mental health in a changing world.  Statistics are that half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 but most cases go undetected and untreated.  WHO says that prevention begins with a better understanding of mental health.  Titus agrees.  She believes that Airdrie is heading in the right direction with more mental health resources, such as the Alberta Health Services / Airdrie RCMP Mental Health Liasion Team.

"They are absolutely going in the right direction, both globally and locally.  I'm not sure that it's a need for more resources as in funding, but some of the work we've done through the Mental Health Task Force which is bringing many of the community agencies and organizations and individuals together with their own perspective on mental health in the community. 

What we're finding is that some of it is just education and awareness and knowledge and understanding within our community of what's available.  We have some great programs in our community that may not be being accessed because people don't know where they are or how to access them.  There's a whole spectrum of how we can move the needle.  It's as simple as creating education and awareness of what we already have here at home and identifying what we don't have so we can plan for the future as well."

Titus says the focus on mental health in the community of Airdrie and the willingness to talk about it makes her extremely proud.

"For their willing spirit and their willingness to come to the table and sit around a table and talk about where we're at and where we want to go and help roll up their sleeves and get to work in a really collaborative way.  I tell people a lot that they need to be proud of our community because there may not be an awareness that it's actually going on, but it is, behind the scenes.  There's been a tremendous amount of work done on behalf of the community way in a collaborative, integrated way."

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