March 29, 2017
Written by Alexander Lambrecht, President
Northern Territories Federation of Labour
Mental Health Crisis in the North
Have you ever stopped to think about why you’re thinking about what you’re thinking? What is life, awareness, consciousness, mindfulness, thoughts, feelings? Many of us don’t take time to reflect on our mind or think about our thoughts. Regardless of the quantity of your thoughts, the quality is what shapes your perspective on your inner and external world.
Mental health afflicts millions of people every year in Canada, and I can only imagine how many Northerners experience varying levels of depression during the winter months, as well as the people who may feel low because of their current situation. The causes of mental health afflictions vary, but where it starts is clear – the brain.
The most complex organ in our body is the brain. A paradox of connections, data storage and only theoretical understandings of how it all works. But you don’t need to be a neuroscientist to understand certain basic functions of our minds – mind tricks exploit the known limitations of the mind for our entertainment; but those same limitations are what cause us pain.
We often overestimate how much we think we have control of our mind. Mindfulness is not about control but rather being aware of our thoughts by challenging facts, perception and bias in the moment. When taking time to plan for a course of action, we can prepare for anticipated inevitability but when the unanticipated occurs, it is our ability to rationally approach the situation to determine a logical remedy.
What if we don’t have this ability to be mindful? The great thing about mindfulness is that anyone with the determination can learn to be more aware of their thoughts and be more resilient in recovering from life’s low points – this is more a long-term societal goal that is slowly becoming more mainstream and needs more support from all levels of government.
The 2017 federal budget, there is $5 billion committed over 10 years toward mental-health initiatives, as well as various other levels of government funding and initiatives. It’s been a very long time waiting, and we’re going to be waiting a bit longer before we start to see any positive effects from these announcements.
In remote Northern communities, the crisis is worsening, peoples’ mental health is deteriorating daily, and the longer we wait the more devastating the effects will be on societies future generations. We’ve seen the generational effect of the systemic failure of a society to ensure all people are treated equally and fairly as humans – humanity has seen too many of these events over the last 100 years let alone all human history.
Ultimately, I am always left with the same question at the end of these thoughts about where society is headed. What are we working towards? What is the point of our collective humanity? We have an abundance of technology, endless possibilities, but even with all of the people and resources working towards a better world have we not achieved just that – a better world.