Fun (but sad) fact: The building sector makes up nearly 40% of annual global CO2 emissions. These emissions are made from the operational carbon emissions (lighting, heating and cooling) and from the manufacturing and transportation of building materials i.e. the construction process. As Canada (and many other countries) try to build their way back up from their housing deficit, emissions from the building sector will surely surge. Unfortunately, the shortage of housing supply leaves many unable to afford a place to live. With all these factors in mind came the birth of the genius idea of green buildings or sustainable architecture. 

For the sustainability you don’t yet know.

Who Cares for Caregivers?

Written by Jessica Schiff, MSW  

We’ve all heard the stats – 1 in 5 people (probably closer to 1 in 3) will personally experience a mental health issue/illness in their lifetime. But what about the people in their circle who witness their struggles, their ups and downs? The friends and family of someone with a mental health issue experience their own stress while trying to help their loved one. Talking about difficult subjects, like self-harm and suicide, can be challenging and emotional. Watching someone refuse treatment, or deny having issues, can be a major source of worry and it can even lead to compassion fatigue. That’s why Friends for Mental Health is here – to help you while you help others.

The Struggles of being a Caregiver

Loving and caring for someone with a mental health issue can be difficult. We may struggle to find the words to say, or we may feel emotionally drained. It can also happen that we feel angry with the person, for example if they are very emotionally reactive and lash out against us. Often, we want to help the person and we can get a certain satisfaction by doing good for others. That said, we can also lose ourselves in the helping dynamic, and that’s why services exist for carers. 

Everyone is different, with their own unique situations and experiences. In general, some of the main goals that we work on with our clients are around improving communication skills, learning how to offer adapted support, and expanding on our self-care. Let’s look at a few general tips and strategies that are important in caring relationships.  

I-Statements and Limits 

We want to work on minimizing judgment when sharing our observations and thoughts, and one way to do that is by using I-statements instead of you-statements. We can use I-statements to express our feelings and perspective, and to set healthy limits and boundaries in relationships. Limits are not about telling the other person what to do, it’s about how we accept to be treated. Basically, it’s not “You can’t talk to me like that,” it’s “I will not accept to be spoken to this way.”

Emotional Validation and Self-Care

An important part of communication is emotional validation, which is the act of acknowledging the emotional experience of the other. We can combine validation and limit setting, for example by saying, “I understand that you’re angry, and you have every right to be. I don’t like being yelled at, so I cannot continue this conversation right now.” We can also validate our own emotions, particularly the ones that are more uncomfortable (ex. guilt, resentment). This is where journaling as a self-care tool can really come in handy. Write down how you’re feeling and that it’s okay to feel this way – we’re only human! 

Build A Circle of Support

Keeping our struggles a secret can become quite heavy, and holding onto our fears for others just keeps them turning around in our mind. It’s important to create a circle of support and to see what services are available to the carer and the person living with the mental health issue. These can be professional mental health services, peer support, or even social/recreational activities/groups. 

Resources for caregivers

If you know someone who is struggling with their mental health, maybe someone who has a diagnosis or someone who seems to be having a really hard time, we are here for you. Feel free to call or email us anytime, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We serve the population of the West Island as well as Anglophones from all over the island of Montreal. We offer a variety of services, either by phone, online, or in our office in Beaconsfield. Counseling can be a great way to learn about how to help others and how to take care of ourselves in this dynamic. Support groups, facilitated by a counselor, help break down isolation by allowing us to connect with people in similar situations. We offer many classes on a variety of topics. We also offer webinars, movie nights, and other respite activities (mindfulness, etc.). We are also available to animate classroom presentations about mental health and we have a kiosk for community events and schools. 

Friends for Mental Health