Let’s Talk – End the Stigma of Mental Illness

bell_lavieThe stigma of mental illness still exists today. Most people suffer in silence because of it and this stigma needs to be fought. Here in Canada, the company Bell hosts a day they call, Let’s Talk. This year it is held on Tuesday, January 28. On this day, they donate money mental health research and organizations that work to help those with mental illnesses. This day is meant to raise awareness of mental health issues. They want to end the stigma of mental illness that is still rampant today.

I have experience with mental illness. I have family members who suffer from depression and schizophrenia. I have an anxiety disorder as well as have suffered with depression. I know the stigma attached to these illnesses and it took me a long time to get past my fear of the stigma to sharing my issues with people.

Below are some facts from the Bell Let’s Talk website.

27% of Canadians are fearful of being around people who suffer from serious mental illness. – Canadian Medical Association

Mental health problems and illnesses also account for more than $6 billion in lost productivity costs due to absenteeism and presenteeism. – The Mental Health Commission of Canada

2 in 3 people suffer in silence fearing judgment and rejection. – Canadian Medical Association

I would be included in this stat. I used to suffer in silence because I feared judgment and rejection. I started struggling with depression when I was ten years old and feared how people would judge me if they found out all the thoughts that ran through my head and that I was depressed. It took me until the age of nineteen before I started telling people about my depression.

Adults with severe mental health problems and illnesses die up to 25 years earlier than adults in the general population. – Canadian Journal of Psychiatry

Less than 4% of medical research funding goes to mental illness research. – Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health

Only 49% of Canadians said they would socialize with a friend who has a serious mental illness. – Canadian Medical Association

I find this fact ridiculous. No wonder people suffer in silence and fear judgment and rejection. If you heard friends saying that they wouldn’t socialize with people because they were depressed or had some other form of mental illness, would you want to tell people you had this illness. No. Why is having a severe mental illness seen differently than having a severe physical illness?

Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities. – CMHA

It helped me tremendously when I finally reached out for help with my depression. I saw a mental health worker and just talking with her about my struggles helped. She also helped me realize that I had an anxiety disorder which played a huge part in my depression. Getting help and just talking about issues such as depression helps.

Every day, 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a form of mental illness. – Mental Health Commission of Canada

Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year-olds and 16% among 25-44 year-olds. – CMHA

I could have been one of these statistics. I guess I still could but it’s not as likely as it was a few years ago. When I was depressed, I was suicidal. I hoped and prayed that I would die. I would think of ways I could end my life. At the worst of my depression. I would imagine myself taking a knife and piercing my heart with it. I would imagine suffocating myself. I would think how many pills I would have to take to end my life. I even considered driving off a bridge and even researched suicide methods. You may never know if someone is considering suicide.

1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life. – Canadian Institute of Health Research

At this very moment, some 3 million Canadians are suffering from depression. – CMHA

Two-thirds of homeless people using urban shelters suffer from some form of mental illness. – Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health

In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them. – CMHA

Mood and anxiety disorders impact an estimated 22% of the Canadians population. – CMHA

Most people don’t realize how much mental illness controls your life. My anxiety disorder has controlled my life and in the last while I’ve tried to take it back.

People with mental illness want to be seen as normal even when they don’t feel normal. Help end the stigma on mental illness so more people feel free to talk about it and seek help.

Below is a video of a young woman sharing her story with mental illness. If you want to watch more, there are more videos on the Bell Let’s Talk website.

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10 comments on “Let’s Talk – End the Stigma of Mental Illness

  1. Noel says:

    I work with people with severe mental illness ( Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective, PTSD, Bipolar, etc. ) in Florida, United States. I see how they tend to isolate themselves from others because of their lifestyle. I remember one person telling me at the beginning of my current job, “Don’t be afraid of me..!” This statement broke my heart. It is sad how these people live. I work in a program based on the PACT model (Programs of Assertive Community Treatment) and we travel to these people’s homes to provide services. It is an intensive program and few people can actually endure this kind of job. But somebody got to do it. Thanks for this post.

    • I commend you for working with people with these illnesses. It would be tough but it makes a difference in their lives. It breaks my heart just hearing that someone told you not to be afraid of them. I’ve had such a heart for people who suffer with mental health issues for a while now and I want them to know they are valuable people and their illnesses do not have to define them. Thank you for the work you do.

  2. Johnny Ojanpera says:

    This is a great post Angela. There is far too little real awareness in mental health. The last statistic I saw here in the States was that only 50% of severe mental illness is being treated. That can only be caused by the stigma. I finally committed to continuing treatment for bipolar when I was in my late twenties after around 12 years of managing it on my own with little education and quite a few disasters. Thank you for spreading the word; you are helping people like me. 🙂

    • Thanks Johnny. I find that statistic astounding. Only 50% of severe mental illness is being treated!?! That is not enough and I agree that the stigma is probably the biggest factor of that. I’m glad you’re committed to continuing treatment for your illness. I wish you all the best in your treatment and spreading the word is one of the things I can do to help those with mental illnesses.

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