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Starting the Conversation about Mental Health

The last couple of years have been difficult for nearly everyone. In fact, according to a survey conducted by CMHA Ontario in 2021, “almost 80 per cent of Ontarians believe we’ll be in a serious mental health crisis post-pandemic.” With increased isolation, it has become even more difficult to talk openly about mental health, a topic that can be tough to approach even in the best of situations.

The theme of this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day is Keep Listening, Keep Talking and being there for ourselves and each other. With this in mind, we want to encourage everyone to start a dialogue and continue the conversation about mental health, both about our mental health and our loved ones’ mental health.

Although every circumstance is unique, here are a few helpful tips to start the conversation.

Two females having a conversation

How to Approach Someone you Know

If you have a reason to believe that someone you know is struggling with their mental health, it is okay to reach out to them. With the knowledge that one in five Canadians will likely experience a mental health struggle at some point in their life, we must be there for each other now more than ever.

Be Direct, Kind and Listen

When consulting with Maggie, a Peer Support Worker from CMHA York Region and South Simcoe, she explained that it is essential, “to communicate in a straightforward manner, reassuring your friend, loved one or acquaintance that you care about them.” Additionally, “telling the person that you care about them and validating their feelings, without judgement” is crucial.

If they are open to it, you can also ask them what their needs are and assist them in exploring options to get help. Checking out our program options may be a good place to start, or if you don’t reside in York Region or South Simcoe, see if your local CMHA has to offer. If they aren’t comfortable speaking to you, it’s important you respect their decision not to open up to you. However, take the time to ask them if there is someone else that they would feel more comfortable speaking to.

Check out this article written by our CEO Rebecca Shields, on ways to start this conversation with a loved one and details on how to access York Region’s mental health support systems.

Take the time to understand the warning signs of suicide, to see if it’s necessary to reach out to emergency or crisis support. The Bell Let’s Talk Day Conversation Guide, also provides a variety of suggestions and tips for approaching these difficult discussions.

Take Care of your Mental Health

When supporting a friend or loved one, it’s crucial to balance your mental health and well-being. Practice regular self-care and reach out for support for yourself if necessary. Check out this article with tips for caregivers for further suggestions on how to care for yourself, while taking care of others.

Unsure how to start the conversation about your own mental health? Check out our latest blog post.

Two holding hands

Create a Toolkit of Resources

Whether you’re reaching out to someone you know or someone has approached you, it’s helpful to build a toolkit of resources so they are easy to access when necessary. Below are some of our suggestions. In addition, you can check out Wellness Together Canada or the Bell Let’s Talk Day Get Help page for a comprehensive list of resources available across the country.

  • CMHA York Region and South Simcoe Supportive Telephone Counselling Line: Available Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 1-866-345-0183
  • Community Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Response Service: Available 24/7 for people living in York Region, South Simcoe, or North York who are having a mental health crisis and require urgent care. Call 1-855-310-COPE (2673)
  • BounceBack Ontario: Free guided self-help program for adults and youth (15 years or older) experiencing mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression. More information at
  • Mobile Youth Walk-In Clinic (MOBYSS): Individuals between the ages 12 to 25 can be seen by a counsellor, peer support worker or Nurse Practitioner to discuss confidential health care and mental health needs. More information at

About CMHA-YRSS’ Programs and Services

The York Region South Simcoe branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association offers more than 30 publicly-funded mental health and addictions programs for youth (12 years+), adults and family caregivers. Check out all our program offerings HERE or call Central Intake during regular business hours at 1-866-345-0183, ext. 3321.

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