Many people suffer in silence with depression, hiding it from family and not getting the help they need. When both her parents passed away in 2017, Hien*, cried for a year and came to the realization that something was seriously wrong.

The death of her parents was the tipping point; she was diagnosed with depression in 2005 and has been on and off medications with limited success.

“I was always sad and I had many negative thoughts,” says Hien. “I wanted everything to be perfect – for me and everyone around me so I put pressure on everyone to be perfect because I wanted no mistakes.”

In 2019, she joined a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) group at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) that was delivered in Cantonese. CBT addresses negative thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and unhealthy coping behaviours in depression and anxiety.

Joanna Cheung, social worker, and Wah Tse, registered psychotherapist facilitated the therapy group of 14 people and led them in assessing different coping mechanisms to help them develop a set of personal coping strategies to solve current and future problems.

“Providing this important therapy in Cantonese creates a meaningful community, where everyone feels safe in talking about their mental health challenges,” says Cheung. “The stigma associated with mental health issues in the Chinese community is still very strong, these sessions provide education and support to help group members overcome depression and anxiety.”

Since starting the CBT group sessions, Hien has started smiling again and she is in a better mood. The strategies behind CBT help her think about situations and change her thinking so that she’s more peaceful and responds calmly to situations.

“Everything I learned in CBT I am able to use every day,” she exclaims. “I am very thankful and I highly recommend this therapy. It opened my mind to change the problem. I know I need more therapy and support to solve it over time.”

Hien’s next goal is to share what she has gone through with her sister and friends, “my advice to others is to get help and ‘rescue yourself’ if you have a problem – don’t hide it from yourself or your friends and family.”

The next Cantonese session of CBT therapy starts in October 2019 and runs for 10 weeks. A physician referral is needed to register. In addition to this, MSH provides a range of women’s wellness services to help women suffering from depression including CBT, art therapy and mindfulness-based therapy. These services are available thanks to the support from our generous donors and funds raised by the SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Run for Women.

*name has been changed – Hien means ‘persevering’