Mental health: A lifetime journey

By Dr. Jane Matheson, Wood’s Homes CEO

It’s Mental Health Week in Canada, and I am thinking about my children and grandchildren being born.

In those first moments, we count fingers and toes, check Apgar scores and marvel at the wonder of the body – everyone carefully evaluating physical health. In those first moments, we do not think about that wonderful infant’s mental health – it is invisible and to be determined.

And yet, it is a powerful, unseen force that we know, even today, so little about.

We all begin this way and journey down the roads of life in countless ways determined by nature, nurture, circumstance and luck, and are shaped by the thousands of people we meet through the decades. How we will emerge into adulthood is a mystery – largely due to the unknowns ahead, and the resulting development of both our mental and physical well-being.

Those roads of life are full of joys and challenges for everyone. We face these either on our own or with others and, in doing so, we learn and adapt. It is human nature. As a result, our ability to feel empathy, build resilience, learn new things, overcome pain and heartbreak, make friends and keep them, get along with our parents, love another person… the list goes on… is shaped. All of these activities are part and parcel of ‘mental health’ just as eating good food, exercising, brushing one’s teeth, mending broken bones, etc. are ways we encourage physical health.

At Wood’s Homes, we know that everyone tackles the risks and benefits of everyday life differently, and everyone needs a little help from their friends sometimes. No one is perfect; no one escapes. And it is true – some of us need a little more help than others, especially with the emotional things that are hard to understand. That is where Wood’s Homes comes in. We help children, youth, young people and their family members with understanding and accepting the beautiful mystery of their mental well-being, and help each person find their strengths inside some very serious troubles. We are determined to find new and innovative ways to help with these troubles through research and listening to the voices of children and their caregivers. These are the people who often hold the key to the mystery without realizing it!

Wood’s Homes urges you to look around at the powerful gifts all of our children possess. Encourage them. Every child grows up to be an adult; we were once those same children. Society depends on us all.


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Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family and community – let’s work together!

If you are experiencing a crisis and need to speak to someone, please call our counsellors at our 24/7 Crisis Counselling Line: 403-299-9699 or toll-free line: 1-800-563-6106.

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