Yoga is an effective tool to help those who have a mental illness and their families and care givers
YOGA is an Effective Tool
Event brings families with mental illness together
Marlene Robertson (left) and Lill Petrella attended the Families Moving Forward: Steps in the Right Direction conference on Saturday. Robertson helped start the conference which was first held 10 years ago to help people who have a family member suffering from a mental health issue. Petrella works with the Brant Chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association. The conference was held at Sonnenhof German-Canadian Hall on Henry Street. (VINCENT BALL The Expositor)
BRANTFORD?-?Marlene Robertson still remembers welcoming everyone to the first ever Moving Forward: Steps in the Right Direction held to help families cope with mental illness.
“I called it the ‘first annual’ and someone asked me how I could call it annual when we really didn’t know if there would be another one,” Robertson recalled.
The event is going strong almost a decade later, as more than 30 people gathered for the 10th annual Families Moving Forward conference at the Sonnenhof German-Canadian Hall on Saturday.
The one-day conference featured several guest speakers covering a range of topics including the importance of family support, crisis planning, an overview of the police crisis intervention team and advocacy.
The conference is still going strong and is important to local families for a lot of reasons, Robertson said.
“There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and that’s something we, as a society, really need to address,” Robertson said. “In a lot of cases families just don’t know where to turn for help and often find themselves feeling isolated.
“Conferences like this one and other programs are important to families who are trying to cope and to help an individual in their family who has a mental illness.”
It also helps people recognize they are not alone.
Programs and the conferences like the one held Saturday give people a chance to share stories, information and ways to deal with a variety of issues.
The conference was sponsored by The Family Initiatives Project, an advisory committee founded in 1999 to help direct the work of family support workers. It includes family members and Canadian Mental Health Association staff who work to provide and improve the services to family members of individuals who experience significant mental health issues.
The Family Initiatives Project is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
Mental illness affects one in four people and stigma is the No. 1 reason why people don’t seek treatment. Schizophrenia, depression and anxiety are just a couple of examples of mental illnesses that, if left untreated or unchecked, can become debilitating.
Robertson herself has had a family member suffering from a mental illness. In her case, it was her son Warren.?He died in 2006 at 34 years of age after battling schizophrenia.
The Saturday conference also included a presentation by Jayne Hembruff of Innovative Wellness, who is a registered yoga teacher. She specializes in helping people improve their physical and mental wellness and decrease stress levels.
Yoga can help ease some of the symptoms of mental illness and in many cases it’s a matter of helping people slow down and take a deep breath to take away some of the anxiety or pressure they might be feeling.
She is passionate about the mental health benefits of yoga and has been trying to get it into the schools as a way of helping young people.
“It (yoga) is another tool, something that can help those who have a mental illness and those who have a loved one with a mental illness,” she said.
Locally, the Brant County Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association has a variety of programs and services available. The services include geared-to-income housing for men and women with serious mental health issues, rent supplement apartments, family support, as well as training sessions and workshops.
The workshops cover topics such as suicide intervention training, suicide alertness training, mental health first aid and coping strategies.
The Brant chapter can be reached at 519-752-2998 and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.To learn more about the Brant chapter visit www.brant.cmha.ca.
Reader’s comments ?
There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health.