The City of Regina is marking this week as Mental Health Week by giving residents in the City a chance to reflect.
The City is partnering with the Canadian Mental Health Association Regina Branch to remind residents that if they need support, they are not alone.
Mayor Sandra Masters said that the City would be installing five ‘Reflection Benches’ in parks throughout Regina.
“Our Reflection benches are intended to serve as a physical reminder to our residents to sit down and take time to reflect; it’s important to take time to check in with ourselves about where we are at and how we are feeling about things in our life that are going on,” she said. “In addition, it’s an opportunity to reflect on those in our lives who may be feeling isolated that check-in for those around us. Whatever the case, we want citizens to know that as a community, we care and that we have your back.”
Each bench will include a sign noting the importance of taking time for mental wellness and a QR code that directs users to contact information for a range of organizations offering mental health and wellness support services.
Masters said that the pandemic highlighted how important it is to discuss mental health.
“What we know coming out of the pandemic has probably elevated the discussion around mental health to become a part of our common vernacular now in discussions, and we are continually now checking in on people’s mental health.”
“When someone is dealing with a mental health issue, they should not have to deal with it in isolation, and mental health issues are often very isolating in their very nature,” she continued. “We want the community to be aware of the resources and the support that is available to them; we want to be there to lift them up.”
Masters said that after seeing the use of their parks over the past couple of years, the City felt they were the perfect spot for the benches.
“Some of our parks have never had so much engagement with residents. I don’t think I ever heard so much feedback about our parks because people were out and enjoying themselves; it was the place that they could go to be outside and to be safe and really to enjoy nature.”
Shannon Patton, the director of community engagement with the Canadian Mental Health Association – Regina Branch, said even if people don’t use the benches, they will serve as a reminder of mental health.
“It’s a great way to let all citizens of Regina have a place that they can go; they can sit, relax, reflect, and refocus. Truly being in the moment,” she said. “It serves as a visual cue to remember to take care of our mental health and our mental well-being.”
With this year’s theme being ’empathy,’ Patton sometimes said all it takes is something to be empathetic to help someone who is struggling with mental health.
“People don’t always need or want us to fix everything for them, they simply want to be heard, and they want to know they are not alone,” she said. “These benches just in a small way can play that role by providing that sense of connection and support with just the activation of QR code. A personal and peaceful reflection allows us to be in the moment, quiet the noise, and move forward.”
Five more Reflection Bench locations will be added to city park locations in 2023.