Program helps ease anxiety

Red Deer Primary Care Network is helping people who suffer from anxiety to take steps to ease their fears. Anxiety to Calm, an eight-week program, has been running since January 2011. Ninety-five people have taken the free class that meets once a week for two hours.

Red Deer Primary Care Network is helping people who suffer from anxiety to take steps to ease their fears.

Anxiety to Calm, an eight-week program, has been running since January 2011.

Ninety-five people have taken the free class that meets once a week for two hours.

Jennifer Tilbury, network mental health counsellor on her way to becoming a psychologist, said anxiety is one of the top reasons why patients are referred to the network’s programs by their doctor or other health care staff at the network.

And the class has made a difference in people’s lives, she said.

“Pre- and post-assessments are telling us that people are getting significant benefit and their physical and emotional, mental health is improving,” Tilbury said.

Red Deer Primary Care Network has about 75 family physicians who lead multi-professional health teams to provide comprehensive care and increased services for chronic disease, mental heath, weight loss and low-risk pregnancies.

Anxiety to Calm class size is 10 to 15 people. Usually two classes are held at a time, one that meets during the day and the other in the early evening for people who work during the day.

“We’re looking at teaching skills to manage and reduce anxiety. It is educational,” Tilbury said.

About 75 per cent of participants have been women. The average age is 40.

Tilbury, who developed the class, said participants are introduced to cognitive behaviour therapy, which research shows is the best therapy for people with anxiety.

Most people are afraid of something, but for those with anxiety, fear interferes with their lives and prevents them from doing things that they want and need to do, she said.

“Anxiety is called anxiety because the situation doesn’t warrant the reaction that the person’s having.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com