As the days become shorter and colder, the desire to hibernate like a bear becomes stronger.

Those dealing with stress, anxiety or depression may be more likely to succumb to this feeling.

The Mental Health Association of Yukon is offering a course to teach people a different way of thinking. In the course, called Living Life to the Full, participants learn how their thoughts impact their emotions and behaviour. More importantly, they learn skills to be able to change them.

The course is one of the ways this volunteer association is promoting the positive mental health of all Yukoners. Board Chair, Ray Wells, explains that the Mental Health Association of Yukon wants to eliminate the stigma around mental health.

“Most of us have, or know someone who has struggled with depression,” Wells says. “This course teaches you that you have options on how you think about events in your life… it helps put it in perspective.”

Developed in Scotland, the course Living Life to the Full has been offered in Canada for the last five years through the Canadian Mental Health Association. The Yukon association decided to bring this course here because of the course’s proven success. It’s the first time it’s been offered in the north.

The Mental Health Association of Yukon did a webinar with Yukon mental health professionals and some practitioners have taken the course to see what it offers for their clients.

Described as a self-help course, Wells says it trains “a good basic life skill… to identify unhelpful patterns and thoughts” and learn how to change them. It provides educational tools, based on cognitive behaviour therapy, in a fun, interactive way.

Wells clarified that, “participants aren’t expected to talk,” but he’s found that during the current course, there’s been a lot of sharing of stories, tips and coping strategies. There’s also been a lot of laughter.

The course is eight weekly sessions of 1.5 hours each, with a maximum of 14 people, plus the facilitator. The sessions include booklets to use as a resource at home, and to practice the techniques learned in the course.

The cost of the 8-week course is $200. Program Director Juliette AngleHart-Zedda, noted that they offer gift certificates. She suggested that it would be, “a unique gift… to cover the cost of the course for someone they know that could benefit from it.” The gift certificates are available year round.

With sessions teaching how to chill, build self-esteem and be happier, it’s something that could benefit us all, in any season.

In January-February three courses will be offered in parallel. Two during lunchtime, the third in the evening. All will be held in downtown Whitehorse.

The course will also be offered in Carcross, Haines Junction, Watson Lake and Dawson City sometime between January and June.

For more information contact Juliette AngleHart-Zedda at 668-6429 or by email to MHAYukon2015@gmail.com.