Rebecca Naidoo has been the Program Manager for MindShift CBT Groups at Anxiety Canada since 2017. As Anxiety Canada’s summer Community Engagement Contributor, I had the privilege of sitting down with Rebecca and hearing why anxiety awareness is so important to her.
By Justine Harris-Owen.
Rebecca wishes she’d always known what she knows now about anxiety. She says she would have benefited from that knowledge back when she was a young mother. Back then, it didn’t feel like ‘anxiety’ was a commonly used term, “at least not in an objective way,” she adds. She didn’t understand what the word ‘anxiety’ truly meant, and nobody around her — in schools, at work, or amongst friends — talked much about it.
Rebecca often heard words like ‘worry,’ ‘stress, ‘fidgety,’ ‘dramatic,’ and ‘procrastinator’ used to describe young people and their behaviour, but not ‘anxiety.’ She looks back and realizes that considering mental health was not common in exploring the social and learning challenges children faced.
“If I was more aware of this, I would have educated myself about anxiety and coping tools,” she says. “I wish I’d learned the appropriate tools and strategies to help my son cope with daily life during his childhood.”
When Rebecca and her family moved from South Africa to Canada and had to navigate living in a new country, the advice they received on settling in never included anxiety management. “If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll never find it. You must be made aware of it,” Rebecca says. “That is why raising awareness about anxiety and educating people about what is available is so important.”
Working at Anxiety Canada has given her insight into what anxiety is and how to talk about it with family and friends.
Rebecca emphasizes that these conversations are so important to have to normalize and understand all aspects of mental health. “We need to look at both the positive and negative aspects of mental health, and explore it within our respective cultural environments,” she says. “And if we can talk about cancer and diabetes, we can talk about anxiety and mental health, too.”
“If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll never find it. You must be made aware of it. That is why raising awareness about anxiety and educating people about what is available is so important.”
– Rebecca Naidoo
Now that she has more knowledge on anxiety, when Rebecca looks back at herself as a student, wife, mother, and employee, she sees things through a new lens. “I recognize that my high standards and never-ending lists to keep me on track are related to anxiety. Sometimes, it’s good anxiety and sometimes, it’s bad anxiety.”
Before her time at Anxiety Canada, Rebecca saw her coping mechanisms as simply the way she went through her day-to-day life. She has since learned about the toll anxious habits take on one’s overall mental health.
Since joining the team, she’s been using Anxiety Canada’s online resources, like the MindShift CBT app, My Anxiety Plan (MAP), and the video library. “The videos on Anxiety Canada’s website helped me learn about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for the first time.”
Rebecca has found it important to actively identify thoughts that lead to thinking traps, which can help change behaviour and reactions to situations. “CBT is not easy and requires commitment. You’ve got to put it into practice over and over.” She continues to learn from Anxiety Canada’s resources: “I’ve been at Anxiety Canada for over five years and I learn something new about anxiety every day.”
Learn more about the MindShift program
Rebecca is the Program Manager for MindShift CBT Groups, Anxiety Canada’s evidence-based group therapy program.
If you’re interested in learning proven strategies and receiving therapy that meets you where you are, consider our affordable 8-session group therapy program MindShift CBT Groups. CBT gives you a new way of understanding and thinking about a problem—and provides you with the skills you need to cope right now. With each group, a limited number of free spots are available for individuals who face financial barriers.
Rebecca also touched on ‘thinking traps,’ and working on your personal anxious thinking starts with learning to recognize which traps you fall into.
Learn ways to identify and overcome your personal traps and challenge negative thinking:
- Download Anxiety Canada’s free, award-winning app, MindShift® CBT, to learn valuable coping tools.
- Check out Balance Your Thoughts, the anxiety-relief game that helps players escape thinking traps and transform worries into balanced thoughts in a fun way.
- Read Anxiety Canada’s blog to read about evaluating and challenging anxious thoughts with helpful ones.
- Browse self-help PDFs from our library of Free Downloadable Resources.
- Find more resources on our Get Help page.
Read the last blog post in the series on Maxine, our Sr. Manager of Development & Communications.