2022 04 19 | Host: Michael Wardlow | Mental Health Literacy with Dave MacKenzie

Prospective new member Dave MacKenzie was introduced by Michael Wardlow. Dave is a school counselor at Fulton Secondary, while serving as President of the BC School Counselor’s Association. He talked about Mental Health Literacy, opening with a plea we refrain from diagnosing mental disorders, unless we’re a general practitioner, psychiatrist or psychologist. Instead, we should describe what we see. The use of a variety of words around mental health & wellness may create “semantic confusion” around very different situations. We need common understandings, so we can intervene appropriately if needed. Mental health literacy supports health promotion, prevention, treatments & care. We should learn to distinguish between points on a continuum of mental health distress, problems, & disorders or illness. We all experience distress; occasionally we might experience a problem requiring support; with luck we might avoid a disorder or illness requiring a clinical diagnosis, followed by professional treatment. The “Big 5 to Thrive” are exercise, sleep, positive supportive relationships, helping others & healthy nutrition. Dave explained that the adolescent years, 12 to 25, are when many mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression & anxiety appear, whilst the greatest number of suicides occur in mid-life. It’s important for all of us to be aware, to use non-judgmental language, to be supportive, & to learn where to find help when needed.