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Mental health’ is often confused with ‘mental illness’

April 27, 2017

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, coming up in the first week of May, we’d like to shed some light on the difference between ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’.

Although the terms are used interchangeably, ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ are not the same thing. Everybody has some level of mental health – just like physical health. Your mental health deserves care and attention, just as you would care for your body with annual doctor check-ups or treating yourself to that spa package J.

When you don’t care for your mental health, you decrease your ability to cope with the stresses of everyday life, and strain relationships. Studies show that poor mental health can also translate to physical ailments and mental illnesses.

If you are in a position of care giving, it is important that you take responsibility for your own wellbeing first.

Research shows that parents of children with developmental disabilities experience higher levels of chronic stress, anxiety and depression than parents of children without disabilities.

Family caregivers are also at increased risk for depression and excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Simply put, you are your number one priority. When you take time to recuperate, you strengthen your capability and capacity for caring for others – enabling you to better support your family and loved ones.

We challenge all caregivers to do at least 3 things in this self-care tips list:

  • Embrace your care giving choice
  • Focus on the things you can control
  • Celebrate the small victories
  • Talk to a supportive family member or friend
  • Unplug – no screens!
  • Run or walk for a few minutes; get your heart rate up
  • Paint or write something that lets out your creative energy
  • Make a date with yourself. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you, not work or things on your to-do list (reading, your hobby, walking around the neighborhood, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)


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