Mental Health Week

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Red tulips, Ottawa

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, oftentimes we can get swept up in our thoughts or the everyday living of life, and those things can be overwhelming. It can become difficult to ask for help when we need it and to remember or recognize that we are not alone in those feelings. When we become bogged down by such feelings and begin to think that we are struggling with our mental health or we notice this in family or friends, there are certain steps we can take to #GetReal about how to help.

Last week was the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week. The theme and focus this year is empathy. Empathy is an important tool that allows us to connect as human beings. Understanding empathy, and indeed being empathetic, is a step toward eradicating isolation and loneliness. The last two years have brought both of these things to the forefront and made many of us acutely aware of how devastating they can be.

Like most things, empathy is a practice. We can make conscious choices to be more aware of others and what they are experiencing within their own frame of reference.

One thing we can do to increase empathy is to tune in to one another. This is simply the act of remaining present and aware of others and their possible struggles. We must also look inward. If we are in tune with our own thoughts and feelings and sensitive to our own mental well-being, it becomes clearer and easier to relate to others.

We must understand other people’s feelings and meet them where they are. It is important to see the world from their perspective.

Finally, we must choose not to judge. This can sometimes be the most difficult and certainly requires the most practice. It is hard not to pile on our own opinions and preconceived notions when dealing with someone who is struggling. We must also not sit in such harsh judgment of ourselves. We deserve the same courtesy we might offer to others.

Honourable senators, I ask you to consider these points and, particularly in our line of work, to lead with empathy. I believe if we each put this into practice, we would see a marked difference in the world around us.

I would like to highlight the work being done by the Senate Mental Health Advisory Committee. The changes that we make to protect our own mental well-being and that of others can only make our Senate community stronger and a better place to work.

Honourable senators, let’s look after ourselves and each other. While Mental Health Week is one week out of the year, we can and must do the work each and every day. Thank you.


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