The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has designated the first full week of May as Mental Health Week.

This year's theme is centered on the healing power of compassion.

"I think one of the things that's important about Mental Health Week is the idea that we all have mental health, just like we all have physical health," said Barrette Plett, a counsellor at Recovery of Hope and a school counsellor in Manitou. "Talking about mental health is not just something you do in secret and don't tell anybody about. But you can. You can talk about it like you would talk about a sore knee."

According to the CMHA, compassion, defined as the practice of meeting suffering - whether our own or that of others - with kindness, is often confused with empathy. While empathy involves sensing, feeling and understanding of another’s experience, compassion goes beyond empathy into the realm of taking action. 

A recent study by the CMHA found that while almost all (92%) of Canadians claim to be compassionate, only 38% have taken active steps to alleviate hardship in the past year.  

Plett has noticed that one of the most common mental health issues for teens is anxiety.

"There are a lot of demands on kids and on families, and I think that sometimes leads to anxiety for people. 

Anxiety is often connected to struggles with self-esteem and the use of mobile devices added Plett.

"Even younger high school students feel like they have to always be available for their friends. They're worried about missing out on a conversation, or they're worried that a friend will be upset with them if they don't like a post in a short enough amount of time."

Plett believes there's immense pressure for people to be connected and to be on. 

"I also think that when kids (and adults) are scrolling through social media feeds, and we see all of these perfect people living perfect lives, we feel like we're not doing a very good job. We feel like we're not very good looking or that we don't have any exciting adventures. We forget that it's a very curated world that we see through social media."

Plett maintains his own mental health by getting active, being creative through drawing or writing and enjoying the outdoors.

Another common issue he sees is ADHD - attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 

"That's not like a mental health concern in and of itself, but I think people who have ADHD are struggling to find ways to cope in a world that isn't always set up for them."

In order to deal with ADHD, Plett advises finding activities that engage the rapid pace of the mind and take breaks to re-focus on what's important.

Jayme Giesbrecht, Director of Development for Eden Foundation in Winkler, says this week is about letting people the resources available to them at Eden Health Care Services. She admits that the system is not perfect when it comes to receiving mental health care, especially for severe and persistent mental illness. 

"But for Mental Health Week, our focus is more on the general population's well-being and mental health. What can we do to improve our mental health? Because overall it makes the community better, it lowers instances of crime and creates a better future for all of us in our communities. As Eden Foundation, we're stepping up to say, we're here, we want to make sure that you know that we're here, and here are some resources."

Giesbrecht says Eden Foundation is using social media to promote a unique approach to mental health awareness. 

"We've created a Mental Health Bingo Card with different categories of things you can do for your mental health, and we're doing that internally for staff at Eden. Southern Health is doing it as well. The things on that list include going for a walk, watching a movie that you love, cleaning a room in your house. There are so many things that we can do. Sometimes getting active and moving is great for your mental health, sometimes just resting is great for your mental health. You have to gauge what it is that you need, and sometimes it can be hard to tell."

Giesbrecht sees this as a great week to take inventory and decide what you need to do for your own mental health.