Strength, Sports & Stress: What Tough Guys Need to Know about Mental Health & Wellness

75% of those who die by suicide are men. Mental health is a part of every man’s life, but too many men neglect their mental well-being. This Wellness Project Edmonton workshop gives attendees the chance to learn about the interplay between masculinity and mental health and allows men to become healthier, happier, and whole.


The course, facilitated by Cornerstone Student Counsellor Ron Klok, will focus on specific issues related to men, especially the ideas around what it means to be a real man.  It will explore current cultural definitions and models of masculinity and how these have a bearing on men’s mental health.


The course is open to anyone (both men and women) who wants to learn more about men’s mental health. In the end, attendees will come away with some concrete practical help to support their mental health and to support the men in their life.




Mindfulness: The Art of Being Present

Have you ever made it all the way from your front door to your desk in the morning, and wondered if you turned off the stove, or locked the door, or even how you got there? We live in a world that is constantly in motion, which can lead to intense feelings of anxiety, depression, and being overwhelmed, leaving us exhausted and desperate for rest. Overall, this constant stress can lead to poor mental and physical health.


Most people are familiar with the recommendation that you should get at least thirty minutes of physical activity a day in order to keep your body healthy, and this is definitely important. But in this stressful world, many of us would benefit from taking more time each day to focus on our mental wellbeing by exercising our minds. There is a practice for focusing on mental health called “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is a practice that involves being present and aware of yourself and your surroundings. It is a relaxation technique that has been proven to hold many powerful benefits to mental and physical health.


Registered Psychologist at Cornerstone Counselling Centre, Jim Chalmers, offers his expert advice on mindfulness, indicating that “mindfulness is an exercise that one can learn to reduce stress and improve one’s quality of life.” He explains that mindfulness teaches you how to dramatically reduce stress, which has an unequivocally positive effect on overall health.


Incorporating mindfulness into your life might seem a little tricky, but there are multiple options. A good place to begin would be with guided mindfulness meditation practices, which are easily accessed online. One of the first steps to achieving mindfulness is becoming aware of the simple things that are going on around you—such as paying attention to your breathing or noticing the little thoughts that go through your mind. Becoming mindful is uncomplicated, but it is not easy. It requires your full attention, and quite a bit of discipline.


Chalmers explains that mindfulness is a skill that you can improve and build upon, and eventually you can have the ability to utilize this skill in stressful situations. Just as you set aside time to go to the gym to work out, in order to improve your mindfulness you should set aside some time to practice being mindful. Generally, ten minutes a day for six to seven days a week should be an adequate amount of time to begin with. Within a short period of three to four weeks, you should be able to feel the benefits within daily life. Some of the benefits that you might notice include:

  • A reduction of intrusive and stressful thoughts
  • Improved memory and concentration
  • Improved insight into feelings and reactions
  • Improved emotional flexibility
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved sleep

Simple tasks that you perform daily by just going through the motions—such as turning off the stove or locking the door—could be done mindfully, simply by becoming conscious of our present actions. This is one of the first steps to achieving a state of being aware, calm, and present, which all add up to mindfulness. Mindfulness has the ability to improve your quality of life. The more you practice mindfulness, the more “mentally fit” you will be; therefore the better you can utilize this skill to deal with stress and handle tough situations, in order to enhance overall wellbeing.

Thank you to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation!

Just in time for the holiday season, Cornerstone was blessed with a generous gift from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation. This donation supports our Student Counselling Program, which provides counselling with master’s level student counsellors for $20 a session, which is 90% lower than standard counselling rates.


This gift will provide up to 85 hours of student counselling. This generosity will bring hope and healing to so many community members who would not otherwise have been able to afford the care they need. In turn, this healing will benefit friends, families, and communities. The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation has made our city stronger with this generous donation.


We are grateful for the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation’s dedication to enriching and improving our community. To learn more about their organization, visit their website.

Movember: Bringing Awareness to Men’s Mental Health

Last month, the world celebrated Movember. November has become synonymous with men attempting to grow out their moustaches. More and more men are deciding to go shave-free for the month of November in support of Movember, a movement dedicated to raising awareness about men’s physical and mental health. It is an interesting concept that more men are participating in every year, but where did it all start?


The Movember foundation was founded by a group of friends: Travis Garone, Luke Slattery, Adam Garone, and Justin Coghlan in Australia.  In the beginning, they found thirty men and charged ten dollars for them to grow a moustache, and thus Movember was born. From thirty moustaches to five million, the Movember movement has spread all around the world. Since then, Movember has been able to fund over 1,200 men’s health projects, aiming to improve and save men’s lives. Movember started out with a focus on prostate cancer, but over the years it has expanded to include testicular cancer, overall physical health, and mental health.


The philanthropists behind Movember realized the importance of addressing men’s mental health because mental illness and poor mental health affect men of all ages immensely. Suicide is a major cause of preventable premature death in men. In Canada, statistics show that men die by suicide at a rate that is nearly four times higher than women. In 2015, suicide rates in Alberta were on the rise, with a total of 632 suicides within the province and 474 of which were men. Statistics around the world show that globally, the rate of suicide for men is roughly one death per minute per day.


Improved awareness and access to affordable mental health care is a crucial step to reduce suicide rates and improve men’s mental health. Men are often hesitant to reach out and get help when they need it, and that is why it is so vital to increase awareness and acceptance of men’s mental health. Cornerstone Counselling Centre strives to make professional mental health care accessible and affordable for everyone in the community. We are dedicated to reducing the stigma around mental health, and to providing the services that will allow for healing, recovery, and strong mental health.


Awareness of men’s health is on the rise, and with the help of the Movember movement, recognition of these issues are being spread around the world. The goal of the Movember Foundation is that by 2030, the number of men dying prematurely will be reduced by 25 per cent. This is an ambitious goal, but with the world’s continued and increased celebration of the Movember movement, this goal is within our sights.