October 10 is World Mental Health Day, a day about raising awareness of mental health issues, and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. While we as a society at large have taken great strides in mental health over the past five to ten years, there is still so much work ahead of us, be it a deeper understanding of issues, breaking down stigmas that prevent people from seeking recovery, or general support for those living with mental illness as well as their family and loved ones. 

Keep the conversations moving forward. Here are seven ways to honour World Mental Health Day:

Rendezvous With Madness Opening Night: The Song and the Sorrow at Bloor Hot Docs

Overflowing with beauty, powerful, deeply moving: This year’s opening night film for the twenty-sixth Annual Rendezvous With Madness Festival will be The Song and the Sorrow, a film about loss, grief, mental illness, music, and a father-daughter relationship that was cut short. Musician Catherine MacLellan—the daughter of Canadian singer/songwriting legend Gene MacLellan—grew up surrounded by her father’s music. He died by suicide when Catherine was fourteen. Two decades after his loss, Catherine is finally ready to confront the hurtful mystery of her absent parent and embrace his musical legacy.

The Song and the Sorrow follows Catherine as she journeys to understand her father and face her own struggles with mental illness. Through archival footage and intimate interviews with friends, family members, and musicians who knew and played with Gene—including Anne Murray, Lennie Gallant and the late Ron Hynes—the film reveals a troubled and loving man who was never at ease with fame or money.

This event will include a pre-screening reception, a musical performance by Catherine, followed by a Q&A. We know it will warm up mid-October with a tide of emotions as well as important energizing conversation. More info here

Bursting Bubbles: Creating Context for Evolving Solitudes

Don’t miss this powerful group show that will be on display at Toronto Media Arts Centre (32 Lisgar Street) as part of this year’s Rendezvous With Madness Festival. The art exhibited by seven well-respected local artists will explore the theme of personal space—how the spaces (or “bubbles”) we create as strategies for survival, or protective places for healing—while examining the potential dangers of the bubbles created by stereotyping and how they can lead to isolation. Without a doubt, it will stir up conversations about mental health, and coping mechanisms for survival. More info here.

Body Aware: Reset Body, Mind, Soul at MuseMovement

Have you scheduled your self-care for this month? MuseMovement, our favourite Pilates studio in Toronto, has just announced a weekly forty-five-minute Sunday class dedicated to meditation, bodywork and breath. We love how the class strives to help attendees with positive thinking and meditation designed to help with quieting the inner critic, loving kindness and seeing the good within. Very welcoming environment, especially for those new to meditation & mindfulness.

Visit Hard Feelings

This bookstore on Bloor West dedicated to self-help is a true Toronto gem. Anxiety, grief, alcohol use disorder: whatever issue you may be experiencing, you’re bound to find a terrific resource here that will help you with all the BIG feelings. More info here

Mental Health: Confronting Stigma

Toronto Local Immigration Partnerships invite all to an interactive workshop about confronting the stigma faced by vulnerable newcomers with mental illness. This event is described on the Eventbrite page as a “train the trainer” workshop to help organizations and small businesses learn how to better serve their staff and team members. From learning appropriate terminology to use in the workplace, to understanding trauma-informed care, this looks to be a comprehensive primer from which everyone can benefit. More info here

Go to a Recovery Meeting

You do not need to wait until life completely falls apart to seek help. If you’ve ever considered attending a recovery meeting for either alcohol or drug use disorder, there’s no time like the present. Every day, there are dozens of AA and NA meetings across the city; they’re free and welcoming to all. People get scared off due to religion, but meetings are non-denominational, and there are also specific secular meetings. Check one out—they’re never boring! For a very active online community, we LOVE She Recovers, as do 270,000 other women. (You’re not alone.)

Make a Tea/Coffee Date with a Friend

Whether you are struggling or know someone else who is, sometimes the best (and easiest!) action to take is to meet a friend for coffee/tea or a walk in a local park. Mental health and mental illness is complex stuff, but often the first step is to simply make time to connect and listen. 

It’s been a doozy of a month for all of us. Take it easy, care for yourself, and look out for your loved ones.