TIMMINS -- The theme for this year's Canadian Mental Health Week is to 'Get Real' about how you feel. Mental health professionals said during the virtual launch of the week's activities that heavy feelings lighten when people put into words what they are feeling.

And they are hoping people will use the #getreal hashtag and post their emotions on social media platforms.

“It’s definitely something that can be quite intimidating by some to make such a proclamation online," said Michaela Penwarden-Watson, a mental health educator with the Sudbury-Manitoulin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

"We are seeing that by posting online you are improving your mental health and you can get closer to people by doing that."

A recent survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) found that 77 per cent of adults are feeling anxious, stressed and lacking motivation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sue Tasse, manager of clinical services for the Sudbury-Manitoulin CMHA, said its branch is experiencing a 25 per cent increase in visits from people wanting to discuss those types of feelings.

"That’s why it’s important to get it out there and to talk about it. Not just on the good days but on those normal days as well as the bad days," she said. "I think 'Get Real' is a great hashtag to be able to continue the conversation and to encourage everybody to talk about where they are at this moment.”

For people who are not ready to have those conversations in public or with anyone, mental health officials in Timmins said there are other options.

"There are a variety of ways that we can improve mental health," said Christopher Degagne, an occupational therapist with Cochrane-Temiskaming branch of the CMHA.

"Things like exercise, for instance, have been proven to be extraordinarily effective in improving mental health, but overall what we would suggest is that one of the first touch points is our own educational sessions."

Over the next few weeks, Degagne said topics such as stress, relationships and substance use, will be covered during virtual presentations hosted by the Temiskaming branch of the CMHA and participation can be anonymous.

In Timmins, mental health professionals encourage people to show support for mental health week by taking selfies with the McIntyre Headframe -- it will be lit green until May 9 -- and then post to keep the 'Get Real' conversation going on social media.