Why everyone needs to take care of their mental health

This is part of a Globe & Mail series examining the mental health experience in Canada’s workplaces.

The term mental health problem or illness can be confused with the concept of mental health; however, they are different. About one in five Canadians will experience a diagnosable mental health problem or illness in any given year, whereas everyone has a responsibility to look after their mental health. Good mental health is an important tool to deal with life’s daily stresses.

The Public Health Agency of Canada defines positive mental health as “the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.”


Given that two-thirds of Canadian adults spend 60 per cent of their time at work, workplaces can have an impact on our mental health. The way you experience your job can either damage, or enrich, your mental health.

Consider that a person living with anxiety might be receiving appropriate treatments, have a support network and a fulfilling job, at which she excels. Though she lives with a mental illness, her life circumstances, including her work, enrich her mental health. On the other hand, someone who doesn’t have a diagnosable mental health problem may be experiencing a range of challenges, from coping with aging parents, to financial stress, or undue workplace pressures. Even without a mental illness, this individual may still report poor mental health.

It is helpful to think about positive mental health and mental health problems or illnesses as interconnected, as shown in the diagram below.

One axis shows positive mental health as a resource. It is something everyone can work to strengthen. Taking care of your mental health requires the same kind of effort you expend to look after your physical well-being. On the other hand, if you are vulnerable to a mental health problem or illness, you can draw on positive mental health resources and supports to achieve well-being.

Given the central role of workplaces, it’s not surprising everyone performs better in psychologically healthy settings, free of harassment and bullying, where management is supportive, workloads are reasonable and expectations are clear.


While public discussion about mental health is increasing, too often people under stress believe they should be able to cope better. This is often true whether you are living with a diagnosable mental health problem or simply experiencing poor mental health. This kind of thinking can stand in the way of taking positive steps to build up mental health, like seeking appropriate support. Staying in the stress cycle increases the risk of becoming more ill or further depleting mental health resources.

When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, or when your coping skills seem inadequate, reach out to someone you trust.


One way to take charge of your mental health is to tune-in to changes in your behaviour, feelings and thoughts. If your personal care, sleeping or eating patterns are changing, or you are being troubled by unwanted feelings and thoughts, these can be warning signals that your mental health needs attention.

1. Make a commitment to learn.

Explore what positive mental health means, and what kinds of things can build up your mental health resource kit. The wrong time to prepare for crisis is when you’re in it. Find out more about early warning signs and symptoms of mental health problems, and the kinds of help available. Like preventing a heart attack, it’s helpful to understand not only the signs and symptoms but also how to engage in prevention, and when and where to reach out when things are getting out of hand. A Mental Health First Aid course could be a good way to start. Consider inquiring if your employer would host one.

2. Get your baseline

If you’re questioning how well you’re coping at work, your current stress level, overall health and workplace experiences, complete the Your Life at Work survey. This behaviour-based tool will help you explore the relationship between stress and health and the role of coping skills. The Working Mind is an excellent tool to help employees learn to address mental health problems with a common language. Many employers in Canada are beginning to offer this training to their workers.

3. Devote a little of each day to improving your mental health

Maintaining your mental health is a lot like staying physically fit. A little effort every day goes a long way. The Canadian Mental Health Association is a good place to start for ideas.

4. Reach out.

Many people with mental health problems or illnesses endure in silence. There are resources in your community to help, including your family doctor and your company’s employee and family assistance program representative. A new report, released recently by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Strengthening the Case for Investing in Mental Health: Economic Considerations, highlights Canadian research that indicates a person on short-term disability for a mental health concern will return to work 16 days earlier if they have access to collaborative care – which is when experts from different specialties, disciplines, or sectors work together to offer cohesive client services. This is one of many effective tools, interventions and that are available. Taking action will benefit your health, career and relationships.

Have you dealt with or are you dealing with a mental health issue? Please take a moment to complete our survey: The Mental Health Experience in Canada’s Workplaces: What’s Your Experience?

Bill Howatt is the Chief Research and Development Officer of Workforce Productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto.

Louise Bradley is CEO and President of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

It’s not too late

This is another of my Sales Motivation Quotes that applies very well far beyond sales and into life in general.

It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot.

I hope that you enjoy it.


5 Things To Ask Yourself When You Have Negative Thoughts

Source: Power of Positivity
Oftentimes in life, we allow our thoughts to run on autopilot, without really checking in to see if they serve us or hurt us. As you might already know, your thoughts determine your reality, but getting your mind in tune with how you’d like to see your world can seem like an insurmountable task. If you need a little help changing your perspective about life, ask yourself the following questions next time you notice your thoughts running away from you.



First of all, you have to realize that we have thousands of thoughts each day, and most of the time, they simply run on repeat. What does this mean? The majority of the time, we aren’t really thinking, we’re remembering. So, in order to place positive thoughts in our heads to stop the negative thought loops from playing over and over again, we have to consciously make an effort to control and become aware of our thoughts. Next time you notice a thought pop into your head, you need to first of all ask yourself if it represents reality.

For example, a thought might come into your head that you don’t know how to talk to people. So, if this happens, think about the relationships in your life. Obviously, most of us talk to someone each day, so this thought can automatically get thrown out. It’s as simple as this – notice your thoughts, and decide if they are true or false. False thoughts have no place in your brain, so just discard them.


Next, you should ask yourself if your thoughts serve any positive purpose in your life. Do they provide you with positivity and encouragement, or drag you down? Your thoughts serve as a gateway to living a fulfilling life, so if your thoughts don’t give you the boost you need to go after your goals and dreams, you need to take a look at them more closely. Negative thoughts serve a purpose, of course, but if they make up the majority of your thoughts, you need to get rid of them.

Empower yourself by paying closer attention to your thoughts – this can literally change your life.


Each experience in our lives serves as a lesson, so every time you go through an experience, no matter good or bad, look at what it can teach you.

Even the hardest times can transform us into better people if we allow them to, so instead of focusing on the negatives of the situation, turn your mind toward the positives. We can let experiences change us or break us, so which will you choose?


I’m sure if you look closely enough, you could pinpoint one bad habit that leads to self-destruction in your life. Do you use substances such as drugs or alcohol to get through the day? Do you turn toward food every time you feel upset? Or, maybe you use people as a way to drown your sorrows.

We all have our own vices, but giving up these habits could lead to incredible growth and transformation in our lives. Imagine if you gave up soda, for instance, how would you feel? You might lose some unwanted weight, feel more energized, have less cavities, etc. Examine your life to see where you could improve, and take steps to get there.


This sort of goes along with point 4. Maybe you have some deep dark secret in your life that you’ve been throwing under the rug for a while. Pull it out, dust it off, and see what you can do about it. Avoiding a problem won’t make it go away; in fact, it usually just magnifies the issue. We all tend to put things aside until they rear their ugly heads, and we HAVE to pay attention to them. For instance, do you use food as a way to cope with life’s problems? Beating around the bush with this might lead to unwanted weight gain, health problems, and even relationship problems.

So, to avoid having this bad habit reach a point of no return, handle it head on. When you notice it becoming a problem, try to look at how you can solve it rather than putting it on the back burner to deal with later.

If You See Someone With a Semicolon Tattoo, This Is What It Means

Tattoos have exploded in popularity over the past decade, and have become an important and artistic way for people to express themselves. Most people get tattoos to tell a story, to showcase the pain, triumph, and obstacles they have faced throughout their lives. Every tattoo means something different to the wearer of it, but in the case of the semicolon tattoo, the meaning is universal.
When Amy Bluel tragically lost her father to suicide, she wanted to commemorate him in a special way while also increasing awareness for mental health problems. She founded Project Semicolon, which allowed her to meet both of her goals. According to the website, Project Semicolon aims to “present hope and love to those struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury.”

The semicolon represents the fact that you have complete power over yourself, and can choose to keep fighting, even if you feel like giving up at times. The entire movement aims to bring people together, to empower one another and show that we can all overcome the obstacles we face, no matter the size. You can always rewrite your story, start a new chapter, and recreate your life even if you feel you have nowhere to turn. Your story doesn’t have to end if you simply believe in your ability to create new beginnings.

According to WHO, more than 350 million people globally suffer from depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide. People with mental illnesses often feel embarrassed to talk about their issues, or feel like they will become a burden to others by voicing their problems. Many of these people suffer in silence, not knowing who to go to or where to turn. Project Semicolon invites people from all over to share their stories with one another, and wear the tattoo on their skin to show that they’ve committed to their lives and will keep marching onward despite adversities.

Wearing the tattoo is also a comforting reminder that you don’t have to face your issues alone, and many people all over the world have been in your shoes. They know the hardships you have faced, because they themselves have had to cross the same bridges. No matter how lonely you feel, someone out there can relate to your struggles.

The movement also aims to increase compassion toward mental health issues, and Amy even wrote herself on her website that her organization “envisions a community that comes together and stands together in support of one another.” She encourages people to start conversations with others about their mental health issues, rather than resorting to self-harming, drugs, alcohol, or other destructive behaviors that do not serve people’s best interests.

If you currently suffer from any sort of mental illness, remember that you do not have to face your problems and fears alone. Many others struggle with mental health all over the world, and many choose to see the silver lining in the clouds and make the conscious choice to live a positive, fulfilling life. Project Semicolon aims to support and inspire others to share their stories and get help when they need it, but they are not a 24-hour hotline. In an emergency situation, please call your local authorities, a mental health professional, or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) for immediate help.

We leave you with this inspiring quote from Amy herself:

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

Remember, you are LOVED, cherished, and created by the universe to fulfill a special purpose. No one can offer exactly what you can to the world, so let your light shine. Your life matters, and you have the power to create a wonderful, happy one. You never know who might need your smile, your words, your laughter, and your kindness, so please remember this anytime you feel unwanted or lonely.

By being here on Earth, you have already made a permanent imprint, and the Universe is a better place because YOU exist. Thanks for being here with us on this beautiful, crazy ride we know as life.

Depression is awful. But you *can* get past it.

Too many people simply do not understand that depression is an illness. A very real illness.

The problem is that there is no blood. No stitches. And there is a whole lot of history, including some who think that depression or ptsd is a choice.

It is not a choice. No one chooses this. And until you have some very specific experience with it? More often than not, it’s not going to have any real impact.

Depression kills.

It is very important that people understand this. IT KILLS.

This may make sense to you. It may not. But, The one thing that really matters it that people are dying, because they have not yet found their answer.

Talk about it. Type about it. Say what you are thinking. Say it all. YES – it is nuts. It’s also normal. All those “crazy” thoughts? You’re not alone. You might be surprised at how many people you already know who are fighting similar battles.

The reality:  This is but a moment in time. It does pass.  Remembering that really matters.

Hope > Vision > Action | Copyright 2019 ©. All Rights Reserved. Some images from Pixabay.