This week is mental health week, an opportunity to shine a light on mental health and an opportunity to break the stigma surrounding it.

Sean Miller is the executive director at Peer Connections Manitoba. He says many of us need a reminder that our mental health matters and we need to stay on top of it.

"I use the analogy of Christmas. We have that time of the year where we are really engaged and there is a joy and a bounce in our step, and we're connecting with people and we're really generous, but over time we leak, we leak those things," says Miller. 

"This week is kind of like a pit stop on our way through the year, where we remind ourselves that we've got to fill our tank back up and remind ourselves of what is important here."

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, Miller says people's mental health is being affected greatly and we need to work together to help one another.

"The impact is that it isolates us from people in our lives. As homo sapiens, we are wired for connection. It's tough when we have to isolate and quarantine and spend time alone often," Miller explains. "That can have a negative impact if we're not taking care of it."

He says as a church it is important to get involved and to support those who may be struggling with their mental health. 

"The church is more than just four walls that we gather in.  The church is the people. Church is the people that comprise that gathering and so,  'called out ones' really to me is that mandate to reach out to people to see if they need support, to see if they just need to connect,  just need to talk," says Miller. 

"It doesn't always have to be about supporting someone who is going through a difficult time. It's just about that relationship and really doing what we can to foster and nurture it and to help improve it."

Another place to find support is through Peer Connections Manitoba. It is a family-sensitive peer support mental health organization, dedicated to the improvement of quality of life for those living with mental health challenges through education, peer support and advocacy.  Peer Connections Manitoba offers a number of services in Winnipeg and around the province with many of the programs run by people with lived experience of family members who can relate on a personal level to the experiences.

Mental health week runs until Sunday, May 9, 2021.