Canadian Mental Health Association declared this week (May 2-8) as Mental Health Week.

Mental Health Week is designed to spread awareness of the importance of mental health and how it affects ourselves and the people around us. It's about empathy, understanding, and stepping into each other's shoes.

Many factors, such as sleep, diet, hydration, and the COVID-19 pandemic, have contributed to a need for mental health awareness.

"It doesn't matter which age group we're talking about," said Mardi Hardt, Elk Island Public School's mental health advisor. "The pandemic has taken a toll on all our sense of wellness. The physical distancing that turned into social isolation for many, many people was really hard on us. Human brains aren't meant to live like that."

Hardt also advised ways to help strengthen our mental health, such as increasing physical activity, being around optimistic people and most importantly, getting a good night's sleep.

For those who are or know someone struggling with mental health can seek help by calling the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.