Good mental health takes a wholistic approach that embraces every part of your wellness journey



​A message from Dr. Nolan Hop Wo, Medical Officer, Mental Wellness, Office of the Chief Medical Officer; and Duanna Johnston-Virgo, Executive Director, Mental Health & Wellness

For Mental Health ​​​Week (May 6-12) this year, we want to focus on how we can all support each other in maintaining and nourishing our mental health. Examples include practising lateral kindness, being active, nurturing our spirits, connecting to a community or other people, and getting out in nature and being on the land.

Because our mental health and wellness is interconnected with our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, we need to take care of each aspect to maintain a healthy balance.

The following are suggestions that we recommend you try in your everyday routines. (Note: If you are having serious mental health issues, please reach out to a professional at the links following this message.)

Being kind lifts not only the spirits of other people, but our own. When we treat others with kindness and compassion, it reinforces our own collective mental health. That's why this year's theme for Mental Health Week is “Healing through Compassion." We practise compassion by showing warmth and understanding during tough times; acknowledging that both suffering and personal shortcomings are unavoidable aspects of the shared human experience; and adopting a balanced approach to emotions to ensure feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Being able to “sit" with one's emotions in a non-judgmental way takes patience and perseverance, but is part of being kind to one's self. 

We would also like to take the time to acknowledge kindness in the context of the toxic drug crisis. We, as First Nation peoples, have been incredibly resilient in the face of colonization, racism, and intergenerational trauma. We raise our hands to those who continue to display acts of kindness towards our healthcare colleagues, support our grieving family members, and show compassion to our relatives who use drugs.

Being active is also important for our mental health. Many of us struggle in this area, often because of our busy and hectic lives. However, it's important to recognize that any amount of exercise is beneficial to our overall wellbeing! It can feel intimidating to get started, especially if we compare ourselves to others. Your wellness journey is unique, so it's important to assess your own physical fitness and then find ways to improve and support your own personalized exercise goals. You can include exercise into your everyday routines, such as walking or biking to work, going for a walk at lunch, and setting weekly goals. Finding somebody to join and support you is also a good idea. Remember to consult with your primary care provider before starting an exercise program.

Nurturing spirit is about taking the time to do the things that nourish our soul. Depending on the individual, these may include praying and giving thanks to the Creator, participating in ceremony, traditional drumming, beading, traditional dancing, reading or gardening. Pretty much anything that brings you happiness or enjoyment can nurture your spirit.

Being connected – to a community or people, the land, sea, our pets – is very beneficial for mental health. If you are lacking connection, start out by reaching out to family, friends, an Elder, community members, or visit a friendship centre. Don't be afraid to seek traditional and/or professional help to support you. 

Getting out in nature and being on the land can provide a sense of peace and balance that connects your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects. When we are on the land, sitting by water, or walking in a forest, we feel more serene. And walking regularly or doing other activities on the land, especially with a friend or group, is a simple but effective way to support mental health and wellness. 

Mental Health Resources and Supports

If you need help with your mental health and wellness challenges, there are several supports and services available to you. To find resources in your area, you can contact your local Canadian Mental Health Association branch.

For more intensive help involving substances, there are also treatment centres within BC that are familiar with integrating both traditional First Nations teachings and medicines with Western-style approaches.

If at any time you are feeling desperate or that life is not worth living, please reach out to your local crisis centre for suicide prevention, or call 211 / visit Your life has value and meaning and there are those who can support you in whatever crisis you are experiencing.

FNHA's Mental Health Providers' Map

FNHA's Mental Health Benefits Page​

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