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Mental Health Town Hall

Last night, I had an opportunity to serve in my community as a mental health first aider at a local town hall. The Town Hall was part 2 of a 3 part series on health in Nova Scotia. 1 was health care in general, 2 was mental health and addiction services and 3 will be our health care system specifics. 

The night started off with the panelist stating who they are and why mental health is important to them. Our panel was made up of Tim Halman – MLA for Dartmouth east, Laurel – Community advocate and  - Social worker. After they had finished the floor was opened to anyone who wanted to share their story and/or state problems and solutions. 

A dozen people went up one by one, sharing their stories. Some for example, questioned why is our government is putting over 1 million dollars into a perfectly functioning Art Gallery when our health care system has been corrupt for years.  Or how they can justify putting people who have hit rock bottom and don’t see the color in the world anymore, into a lonely dark room with no color, so support, just five beds and a security guard. 

As the night went on, people continued to share and express their concerns and frustrations. No one wants to feel as if they province and country don’t support them or have their back and yet most of them do. Eventually, we started hearing from individuals who not only pointed out the problems but stated offering ideas that could become solutions. This lead into a great conversation. We talked about how peer support plays a big role in everyone’s lives. How elder need the same amount but slightly different supports than youth. 

This got me thinking. What do our communities actually need for them to feel like the province supports them? What needs to happen in order to have their needs met when it comes to mental health and addiction services? How can I help my community in achieving these goals? 

In my personal opinion, I feel our communities would greatly benefit from people getting off their cell phones and actually going outside and getting to know their neighbors. For anyone who grew up in an area that was close connected, they know the power of a good street cookout. We need more of this! More, time spent face to face and less time spent face to phone. Don’t get me wrong, my phone comes with me everywhere and I am on most social media platforms. But I can guarantee you, if you take me to the beach or to a park, my phone will spend its time in my back pocket. 

So this is my plea to my fellow community members, GET OUTSIDE AND SAY HI! Bring back street cookouts. Make 2019 social again!

This picture is just a testament to what can be found when you go outside.

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Hannah Jackson