ASPA and CUPE 1975 have approached The Canadian Mental Health Association to develop a partnership to support and create awareness for our members who have been struggling with mental health challenges the last number of months.
Both ASPA and CUPE have witnessed an increase in the number of people who have been struggling with different forms of Mental Health issues that seem to have been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. People, who had been coping with day-to-day issues prior to Covid, soon faced some additional challenges brought on by Covid without the capacity to absorb the additional stress.
Covid created job loss in families, education challenges, childcare issues, elderly care concerns, substance abuse, and death in some families among other things. We reached out to The Canadian Mental Health Association, Saskatoon Branch, and they shared some startling statistics with us.
• Prior to Covid, 1 in 5 Canadians at any given time were suffering from some mental health issues. (20%)
• Once Covid began, that number increased to 2-3 out of 5 people were having some mental health issues. (66%)
• As of January 2022, the numbers changed to 4-5 out of 5 Canadians are experiencing mental health issues. (80%)
Our goal from the start isn’t or wasn’t to write a cheque large enough to fix the problem. That would be impossible. Our goal is to create awareness and acceptance at a higher level for those people who are battling mental health issues and identify the services available to our members and their families at the University of Saskatchewan, as well as The Canadian Mental Health Association.
As part of this multiyear initiative, we are selling bold green t-shirts with our logo on the shirt, for ten dollars a shirt, with all the money going to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Saskatoon Branch. The University offers many forms of help thru EFAP and Lumino (SunLife), but the challenge for our Unions along with People Resources, is to convince someone that they should access these services. They are very sensitive conversations and not always well received. For those of you who have accessed those services, it has been identified by you that when you have exhausted your visits with a
councilor from EFAP, that you were tasked with finding and seeking help external to the University. Some of that much needed help can be accessed thru The Canadian Mental Health Association.
We feel strongly that there doesn’t need to be a stigma surrounding mental health, nor
should there be a reluctance to access help when you need it. Mental health situations can and do affect everyone and in many different ways. It is as important to mend and seek help for your mental health as it is for your physical health. Perhaps, just identifying how many people are struggling right now can convince others to seek the help that is available to them and help them in their relationships at work and at home.
It was also identified by The Canadian Mental Health Association that many mental health issues start in the teen years. Those issues left unchecked, shadow you for the remainder of your lives and create additional issues and stresses that can and do result in depression, anxiety issues and relationship problems among other things. What better place to try and shed some light on this issue, than on a campus where over 20,000 students can and will be developing some initial issues and carrying that baggage with them for possibly decades to come. Many of these students are our family, friends, co-workers, and future colleagues.
Our joint committee is very enthused and committed to making change. We all see the need for this. We have many thoughts and ideas to move this along.
I hope you are excited about this. We are as we are in this together.
CUPE1975, ASPA, and the Canadian Mental Health Association – Saskatoon Branch