Support for Trying Times and Beyond

People across the country were caught up in the middle of a pandemic which had devastating effects on their physical, mental and emotional health. People felt more isolated than ever because they were cut off from the major support networks they normally have from their family, friends, and communities. Many previously available resources have been cut off or placed on hold completely, while certain programs were impossible to implement because of health restrictions. This created an environment where it was difficult to find solutions to the factors contributing to a decreased state of wellbeing.

For a long time, mental health has been a subject that has been worthy of more attention. This is even more evident than it was just a few years ago. People seek ways to cope with their fears, stressors, and anxiety. These issues were dealt with long before COVID-19. Many people have daily struggles with their mental health, even under normal circumstances. People need assistance and support now more than ever. Innovative approaches and modifications to existing recreation programs can make a big difference in your community’s future.

Continue reading to discover ways you can positively impact your community’s mental health.

Find Local Program Partners

Reach out to mental health professionals, faith-based groups, and community groups to help develop and implement action plans that will benefit your park-goers. Create programs to assist youth and adults and offer learning materials to raise awareness about an issue that many people don’t know they have. These partnerships can be used to host educational events, teach mental health first aid, and develop new programming that is both mind and body-focused.

  • Mediation sessions
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga classes
  • Classes for a healthy lifestyle
  • Cooking skills classes
  • Reading groups
  • Arts courses

Visit our resources page to find programming ideas and partnership opportunities. Also, please look at our parks and recreation lunch and learn series highlighting virtual recreation program innovators.

Expand your reach

Reach as many people as you can. Not everyone has equal access to technology, resources, and transportation. To ensure that no one is left behind or ignored, consider all communities, audiences, age groups, and neighbourhoods. With your support and knowledge, meet the people right where they are. Reach senior centres and afterschool programs. To spread the word, distribute promotional materials to local businesses and the community.

Individual activities must also be able to satisfy as many people as possible. Activities that are more focused on fun, such as social gaming, Sports or art classes, may be more appealing to children than activities that focus on health and fitness. Adults may prefer to work more with self-help activities and exercise. Flexibility and adaptability will prove more beneficial than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Virtual Options

Look outside the box for non-traditional offerings with your programming and opportunities–virtual options have proved to be a necessity during the pandemic. You can increase online offerings or expand on them after restrictions are lifted. Online school has been offered to children, and adults have used virtual conference calls. Although it was difficult initially, people learned to adapt and made the best of it. They proved that these mediums could be productive and positive places to achieve important goals and make positive advances. Consider how a program traditionally conducted in person would look and work in a virtual environment. Consider how programs, usually in close quarters or indoors, might look and function in an outdoor setting where people can still be socially distant.

A successful program can be reimagined in a virtual setting. Sydney Williams, a former college athlete, skydiver competitor, author and inspirational speaker, is helping people with diabetes to take control of their lives with her #TakeAHikeDiabetes campaign.

Community effort

The entire community must address mental health. Your approach to mental health will be more successful if you have more partners and people involved. Although it is not right for anyone to deal with mental health alone, this has often been the case. You can reach more people by being aware of all the factors influencing a person’s ability to engage and participate. You can identify gaps in your programming and develop innovative solutions to help your community engagement and support mental health.

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