29TH ANNUAL CRIME PREVENTION GUIDE 34 What can I do about mental illness? Experiencing a mental illness can be very distressing. You may wonder if you’ll feel like yourself again. You may not know what’s happening to you, and you may worry about other people’s reactions. It’s important to know that it’s not your fault and it’s not a sign of weakness. It’s important to seek help early. Finding help early will get you on the road to recovery faster and may even reduce the risk of problems in the future. Treatment often includes a few different approaches - for example, counselling, medication and self-care. Support groups can connect people with shared experiences.And there are many self-help strategies to try. Some people may also find extra supports like income and housing. Each person has their own preferences and goals, and recovery plans should reflect that. Contact your local CMHA branch to find help and support in your community. Treatment Counselling An effective form of counselling for anxiety is cognitive-behavioural therapy (or ‘CBT’). CBT teaches you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours work together. A goal of CBT is to identify and change the unhelpful patterns of thinking that feed anxious thoughts. CBT can help you identify problem behaviours and replace them with helpful strategies. It’s often the first treatment to try for mild or moderate problems with anxiety. Medication Some people also find antianxiety or antidepressant medication helpful. Medication can help with the physical feelings of anxiety. It may also make anxious thoughts less frequent or intense, so it can be easier to learn helpful coping strategies. Some people take medication until their anxiety is controlled enough to try therapies like CBT. Support groups Support groups - in person or online - may be a good place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand. Self-help strategies Many different skills can help people manage anxiety, such as stress management, problem-solving, and relaxation. Mindfulness - developing awareness of the present moment without judgement - may also help. Practices that support wellness, such as eating well, exercising, having fun, and connecting with others, are also important. How can I help a loved one? When someone you love experiences a mental illness, you may have conflicting feelings. You may feel worried about their future, and feel relieved that the problem has a name. You may even wonder if you’ve done anything to cause their illness.These feelings - and many more - are normal. You can be an important person in your loved one’s recovery.Ask what you can do to help. Emotional support is important, but don’t forget about practical help with daily tasks, if needed. Remember to take care of yourself and find support, too. Contact your local CMHA branch to find resources in your community. How can I make a difference in my community? Mental illness affects everyone. People who experience a mental illness may face challenges in their communities. Capable workers may not find good employment. Housing may come with restrictions or may be limited by inadequate income. Many challenges around living with a mental illness have to do with unfair attitudes and discrimination.You can make a difference by advocating for people who experience mental illnesses. Let leaders and policy-makers know that your community includes everyone, and support organizations that work to give everyone a voice. What are Mental Illnesses? continued