Mental Wellness

Mental health reflects a state of emotional and spiritual well-being within every person. When we have positive mental health, we feel like we are in control of our lives, are able to cope with stress, and are a part of our community. We can still have hard times and feel angry, sad, and anxious when in good mental health. However, having these feelings does not mean that you have a mental illness.

Mental illness includes a range of medical conditions that can be diagnosed. When not managed, a mental illness can cause our thoughts, moods, and behaviours to have a negative impact on how we function in our daily lives. Symptoms of a mental illness can range from mild to severe and may occur for a short time, come and go, or be constant.

Basic concepts and issues of mental health and mental illness can be found on the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario website.

People who live with a mental illness can still have positive mental health and a person can have poor mental health without a mental illness. We can all learn how to cope with life events and make positive health choices to improve our mental health.

Being mentally healthy

Your mental health can be improved by making healthy decisions and by having positive environments and interactions, such as:

  • Healthy relationships at home, school, and work
  • Good working conditions, such as a stable job and the chance to develop professionally
  • A healthy diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Positive learning experiences
  • Community interactions
  • Access to safe housing
  • Access to support services such as counselling

Improving your mental health

Every person can take steps to improve their mental health and well-being. You can improve your individual mental health by:

  1. Setting goals - Reaching our goals helps us build confidence and feel satisfied. Try creating attainable short and long term goals to give yourself direction and meaning.
  2. Taking a positive approach - Positivity can help us better manage stress and improve our coping skills. Try writing down things you are thankful for, sharing your good news, and enjoying humour.
  3. Connecting with others - Relationships give us a sense of belonging, improve our self-worth, and provide us with a support system. Try having dinner with your family, visiting a friend, talking to a neighbour, or joining a club.
  4. Eating well - A healthy diet helps balance our moods and protects our feeling of wellbeing. Try drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, and planning healthy meals.
  5. Being active - Exercise can help us relieve stress and sleep better while improving our memory and mood. Try taking the stairs, going for a walk or a bike ride, or gardening.
  6. Taking notice - Being mindful helps our self-control, our mental clarity, and our ability to relate to others with kindness, acceptance, and compassion. Try keeping a journal, reflecting on your day, and focusing on doing one thing at a time.
  7. Learning - Learning can help us better connect with others while building our self-confidence, self-esteem, and sense of purpose. Try taking up a new hobby, testing out a new recipe, rediscovering an old interest, or reading something new.
  8. Giving back - Through helping others, we can increase our self-esteem, lower our stress levels, and feel happier. Try holding the door open, saying thank you, and volunteering your time to things that give you a sense of meaning.
  9. Accepting who you are - Self-acceptance boosts our confidence and helps us cope during difficult times. Try focusing on your strengths instead of criticizing your weaknesses.
  10. Developing resilience - Being resilient helps us rebound from setbacks and work through challenges. Try looking for the good in the bad, learning to accept change, and doing things that help you through difficult times every day.
  11. Learning ways to cope with negative thoughts - Coping with our negative thoughts helps build our self-esteem and develop our resiliency. Try changing your thoughts, practicing positive self-talk, distracting yourself, and doing something comforting.
  12. Managing stress - Handling stress in a healthy way improves our ability to focus, make decisions, and think things through. Try identifying the problem, talking to someone, practicing relaxation, and doing something just for you.

For more ideas on how to improve your mental health, see the Canadian Mental Health Association's tips for improving mental fitness or Durham Region's Mental Health booklet.

Support services

Crisis Support

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, you should:

  • Go to your nearest hospital emergency room where crisis support is available
  • Call 9-1-1

Phone Support

  • HERE 24/7 or call 1-844-437-3247 (1-HERE247)
    • Access to addiction, mental health, and crisis services provided by local agencies
    • HERE 24/7 provides intake, assessment, referral, waitlist and appointment bookings
  • Kids Help Phone or call 1-800-668-6868
    • Access to 24-hour child and youth counselling and referral services
  • Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line or call 1-800-268-9688
    • Access to confidential peer support and referral services that support the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, 2-spirited, queer, and questioning youth in Ontario
  • Connex Ontario or call 1-866-531-2600
    • Free and confidential information about mental health services and supports in communities across Ontario
    • This service supports 170 languages
 Local Mental Health Services
Free Local Mental Health Services for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support recipients

The Region of Waterloo funds seven agencies to provide up to eight free counselling services for Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support recipients. See the list below or print the Counselling Works brochure.

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