Practicing empathy key to support peers and ourselves
As a Department of Family Medicine, our faculty, staff, and learners wear many hats to support our colleagues, patients, and health care system. While we have each experienced the pandemic in different ways, there have been many collective experiences that have brought us closer together. Now, it is as important as ever to practice empathy and find points of connection to relate to one another.
For Mental Health Week, May 2 to 8, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) champions mental health awareness, and this year’s theme of empathy encourages everyone to tune in before you weigh in.
Our department strives to be an environment where people can talk freely about their mental health and create a space where feelings of isolation are met with understanding, openness and inclusion. “These values are shared deeply by the department through honouring and respecting others and ourselves,” says Cathy Risdon, professor and chair of the department. “It takes courage to be vulnerable and reach out to a trusted friend or colleague and be open about how we feel.”
We can all take steps to support ourselves and our colleagues. The CMHA encourages empathy for others and ourselves to help regulate our emotions, connect with others and feel less isolated. Supporting your peers with empathy means recognizing that everyone comes to the workplace with unique life experiences. Practicing empathy for ourselves is also a way to recognize that experiencing negative mental health is not a statement about lack of strength, resilience or fortitude. Challenges with mental health do not discriminate and can affect everyone.
The Greater Hamilton Health Network (GHHN) is hosting a Chalking Day on Tuesday, May 3, where organizations and individuals across Hamilton, Haldimand, Norfolk and Brant regions are invited to get outside and write messages in chalk of hope, wellness, support and take pictures to share on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The department will join our extended colleagues at GHHN, and we encourage everyone to join and share messages in support of mental health awareness. To participate, email your pictures to email@example.com or post on social media and use the hashtags #MWH2022 #GHHN #ChalkAboutIt.