September 16, 2021

Mental health resources such as the Waterloo Suicide Prevention Council and Conestoga Students Inc. are doing their best to become more accessible online due to COVID 19 making it difficult for those who are struggling to get the in-person help that they need.

September first marks for the beginning of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month across Canada, with Sept. 10 being recognized as World Suicide Prevention Day by nearly 40 countries. During this month, Canadian mental health advocates, community members, survivors and those currently battling with their mental health come together to promote suicide awareness by holding various events.

 Based on statistics gathered by the World Health Organization in 2019, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults, ages 15 to 35 in Canada. Also in a 2020 study done by the Canadian Mental Health Association revealed that many residents of Ontario believe that we’re heading towards a mental health crisis if more resources are not provided by the healthcare system. 

Messages of hope, help and healing from the community written on butterflies as part of World Suicide Prevention Day. Courtesy of WRSPC. Photo credit: Rocky Nash Photography.

     “Having school online is hard when I’m constantly on my laptop and not seeing my friends,” Hailey Thomas-Squirrell, a second-year Conestoga student said in an email to Spoke News. “I think I’ve been handling it [COVID 19] ok. In the summer it was doing better than I am now, but I’m trying to push through.”

     There’s a copious amount of pressure added to people this time of year with school starting and the colder months beginning. And now that COVID 19 is making the future unpredictable and unreliable, many community members are finding themselves in distress. As most businesses are adjusting to the pandemic, local mental health resources have also been working hard.

     Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council is an online resource that anyone can reach out to for help. Elisa Brewer-Singh

Elisa Brewer-Singh is the Executive Director for the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.

is the Executive Director for the WRSPC and works alongside her team to provide in-depth knowledge about suicide and multiple other topics.

     “[The website] is such a robust information tool. When people think about suicide prevention, they think of someone in crisis, but it’s more than that. There is information about stress; what is stress, how do we navigate stress. There is information about resiliency and how we can build resiliency in ourselves,” she said in an interview with Spoke News. 

     Using a method that Brewer-Singh referred to as hope, help and healing, the team provides training, advocacy and community resources while also working alongside multiple community partners.

     “If someone is in crisis, we help facilitate where they can connect in the community. In our community specifically, it would be Here 24/7,” Brewer-Singh said. 

     As for COVID 19, WRSPC has always been online. They have updated their website with a ‘Wellness During COVID 19’ page where they specifically highlight resources that they see as helpful within the community. WRSPC also continues to be active on multiple social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin, using the name @WRSPC. 

     “We provide resource Thursday’s. What we try to do is highlight different resources within the community. It may be an organization, a group that’s running or it could be a great resource that’s online that we wanted to highlight” she said.

     Conestogas Student Inc. is also doing what they can to help out students and community members. One of the many services that they offer through the CSI is the Wellness Office.

     Although Conestoga’s Wellness Office did not respond to questions asked about their services by Spoke, they did provide a print that outlines and highlights their mental health services: Mental-Health-Services.

     Major life events such as loss of employment, loss of income and isolation due to COVID 19 may have you feeling lonely, but you’re not alone. With the help of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council and the Wellness Office at Conestoga, help is one phone call or email away.

If you seek immediate help, please reach out to Waterloo’s Here 24/7 hotline, 1-844-437-3247, or GOOD2TALK, 1-866-925-5454. 

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