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Description: We are hearing from several directions that there are not enough therapists to go around these days. Even discounting the impact of the Covid pandemic (if we can), the successful reduction of stigma associated with admitting that help is needed and increasing levels of burnout and retirement among support and therapy providers, and we are short of what we need. What to do? An interesting thought is to consider who else might be able to be of assistance to those around them who are coping with mental health issues. How about friends, neighbors, anyone (with appropriate training)? Think about at least two implications of this suggestion. One is who could or should be trained and how. A second implication is more general, and it may become clear to you if, as you read through the linked article and all of the ways it considered for regular citizens providing ‘therapy,’ you think about what those things have to say about us and the state of our social connections these days.

Source: How mental health training for regular citizens is helping fill Canada’s therapy gap, Erin Anderssen, The Globe and Mail.

Date: April 16, 2022

Image by sasint from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-mental-health-services-canada/

The linked article discusses a number of options and areas where regular citizens could be of assistance in issues of mental health, from being aware of suicide, to talking with fellow students, employees, or to family friends or neighbors. The article also includes mention of aspects of the second implication I hinted at above. We have seen in research data for a long time that social support, social connections, listeners reduce the impact and even the incidence of mental health problems. Very early work showed us that people living in small towns or communities tended to recover more quickly from mental health issues that did city dwellers. Part of this is likely due cities being where mental health clinics and therapists may be found but it was also suggested that the closer social ties found in small communities lead to people being helped to access support earlier and provided more support upon their return from treatment leading to quicker and more complete returns to adaptive functioning. Bottom line, perhaps we need more genuine and regular social contacts that we routinely have these days if we are to comfortably maintain our mental health and wellbeing.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things can regular folks provide that could be of assistance to those dealing with mental health issues?
  2. What are some ways in which citizen mental health supports might work with profe4ssional mental health services?
  3. What do you make of the second implication I suggested in terms of what this article and what it discussed might suggest about where we are at socially these days in general and in terms of our mental health and wellness?

References (Read Further):

Iyer, S. N., Boksa, P., Lal, S., Shah, J., Marandola, G., Jordan, G., … & Malla, A. K. (2015). Transforming youth mental health: a Canadian perspective. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 32(1), 51-60. Link

Halsall, T., Manion, I., Iyer, S. N., Mathias, S., Purcell, R., & Henderson, J. (2019, March). Trends in mental health system transformation: Integrating youth services within the Canadian context. In Healthcare management forum (Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 51-55). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications. Link

Grant, K. L., Simmons, M. B., & Davey, C. G. (2018). Three nontraditional approaches to improving the capacity, accessibility, and quality of mental health services: An overview. Psychiatric Services, 69(5), 508-516. Link

Hendryx, M., Green, C. A., & Perrin, N. A. (2009). Social support, activities, and recovery from serious mental illness: STARS study findings. The journal of behavioral health services & research, 36(3), 320-329. Link

Chronister, J., Chou, C. C., & Liao, H. Y. (2013). The role of stigma coping and social support in mediating the effect of societal stigma on internalized stigma, mental health recovery, and quality of life among people with serious mental illness. Journal of Community Psychology, 41(5), 582-600. Link

Luxton, D. D., June, J. D., & Comtois, K. A. (2013). Can postdischarge follow-up contacts prevent suicide and suicidal behavior?. Crisis. Link

Naslund, J. A., Aschbrenner, K. A., Marsch, L. A., & Bartels, S. J. (2016). The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences, 25(2), 113-122. Link

Shalaby, R. A. H., & Agyapong, V. I. (2020). Peer support in mental health: literature review. JMIR Mental Health, 7(6), e15572. Link