• Your Mental Health Matters

    When your problems seem overwhelming in numbers.

Mental Health Resources for You

The Stigma-Free Society created the Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit to let individuals living in rural communities know that it is OK to reach out for help and that they are not alone. We all have mental health, and it is just as important as our physical health. In this section, you will find many resources to help you take care of yourself. There are also highlighted sections for different audiences such as entrepreneurs, men, and Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

Conversation Cards about Mental Health & Stigma

Below you’ll find our “Conversation Cards” to help you kick-start your conversation with friends or family about mental health.

1. Simply look at a card and read the question on the front.

2. The other person offers a response.

3. Then discuss the answer together.

What is mental health?
Mental health is part of our overall well being and is just as important as physical health. We all have mental health and it affects how we deal with stress, interact with others, and make all kinds of choices. Mental health is important at all ages, from young to old.
What is mental illness?
A mental illness is a real health problem that affects the brain. It changes the way you think, feel and behave. Absolutely anyone can have a mental illness. 1 in 4 Canadians will experience some type of mental illness.
What is depression?
Depression is a mental illness and mood disorder that involves the experience of sad mood, low energy and fatigue, sleep disruption, low appetite or overeating, and sometimes thoughts about harming yourself or even death. However, depression is treatable through therapy and/or medication.
What is anxiety?
We all experience anxiety sometimes, this is normal. It is our body’s response to stress or a fear that something bad is going to happen. You can feel anxiety in your body: you may feel your heart race, you may feel hot and sweaty, feel shaky, or feel nauseous. Anxiety becomes a concern when it is long-lasting and very intense. Anxiety Disorders are mental illnesses.
What is stigma?
Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart. When a person is labelled by their illness, they are seen as part of a stereotyped group.
What are the three types of stigma?
Self-stigma: a negative belief you have about yourself.

Societal stigma: a negative belief that society has about a specific group of people, typically based on a stereotype.

Structural stigma: policies that limit opportunities for people based on negative beliefs and may be experienced as bias, avoidance, discomfort and/or discrimination.
What is rural mental health and wellness? 
Mental health support for those living in rural communities.
What are common mental health challenges that rural communities face?
Rural communities experience higher rates of suicide, addiction, and substance use.
Is addiction a mental illness?
Addiction is a complex mental illness that involves the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual parts of a person. It involves a problematic relationship with a substance or activity that is used by the person for self-soothing or self-medicating, sometimes for another mental illness. 
Individuals in rural areas can be a vulnerable population. Why is this the case?
Rural residents are more likely to live in poverty, report poor health, lack health insurance, have a chronic health condition and be unemployed.
What factors can influence health?
- Income and social status
- Employment and working conditions
- Education
- Childhood experiences
- Physical environments
- Social supports and coping skills
- Healthy behaviours
- Access to health services
- Biology and genetics
- Gender
- Culture
- Race / Racism
How does income affect an individual’s health?
The more money you make the more likely you are to be insured for health care and mental health services. In general when you have more money you can afford more services and spend the time accessing these services.
People in rural areas live far apart, why might this affect a person's mental health?
People may feel isolated and experience less social interaction.

Being social is good for our mental health.
Are rural residents able to access mental health services?
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It is much more difficult for rural residents compared to those living in the city/urban areas. They often have to travel long distances to receive mental health services.
Are there enough mental health services available to rural communities?
No. There are far less psychologists and psychiatrists in rural areas compared to urban areas. Where services do exist, they are frequently stretched thin, with long wait lists, and high turnover rates (meaning the therapists change often).
What is meant by the “acceptability” of mental health services?
Acceptance and understanding surrounding mental illness. When there is a lack of acceptability it often means there is a stigma surrounding needing or receiving mental health services.
Rural residents often do not seek help for mental distress. Why may this be the case?
1. Individuals in rural communities tend to value self-reliance. Men, for example, may be affected by traditional masculine roles (e.g., strong and unemotional).
2. General lack of privacy and stigma (e.g., word travels fast, everyone knows everybody).
3. Individuals do not want to be labeled as “crazy”. This is a harmful stigma, mental health challenges are common and those with mental illness are indeed NOT crazy. 
How do people in rural communities view mental illness?
They usually think of mental illness in terms of the extremes (e.g., psychosis). They are less likely to recognize mental health challenges, such as depression and anxiety, as problematic or something requiring treatment. Thus, they may suffer through the mental illness and not seek help as a result. 
What is a significant barrier to accessing mental health services?
Transportation. Due to the lack of mental health services in rural communities, individuals living in rural areas must often travel further distances to access the services they require. This means higher travel costs in order to get these services. Also, most rural communities do not have public transit systems, so there are the extra costs for taxicabs or private transportation.
How can we reduce stigma in our lives and in our communities?
- Challenge/question your thoughts.
- Talk about the challenges people may face with others.
- Have a respectful attitude towards others
- Support groups and mental health education for rural residents could be extremely beneficial in battling stigma.
Helpful Videos for Mental Health
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