Let’s Talk About Mental Illness

help 80%Today is a bonus post because, here in Canada, an event that I’m passionate about it happening – Bell Let’s Talk Day. It is put on by the telecommunications company Bell and it’s meant to bring light to mental illnesses. It’s premise is to get people talking about mental illnesses and strives to end the stigma around mental illnesses.

Mental illnesses are real and are not just in a person’s head. The phrase “it’s all in your head” is very damaging to people who have mental illnesses because you’re brushing off what is very real for them and they feel like a failure because they are not able to “shake it off”.

less than 4% I watched a TEDTalk a couple of months ago about someone who had a mental illness. At one point he said that if he stood up there and told people he had cancer, they would feel sympathy for him but if he told people he had a mental illness, people wouldn’t talk him seriously, say it was all just in his head, or possibly even be scared of him.

It is true. When it comes to illnesses of the brain/mind, we are less likely to sympathize with them than if they had a illness of the body.

fearfulI think part of the reason we respond differently is because people are unaware of how it affects the person with the illness and because of the media.

Just the other day, I had a friend text me about a guy who had asked her out who was on meds for depression and anxiety and someone told her that they thought he had schizophrenia as well. She was still willing to go out with him but she didn’t know much about schizophrenia. I have someone close to me who has schizophrenia and I told her that if he was like them, he would be aware of his symptoms and know when to take extra meds.socialize

Another thing she said was that she would not have known he was on medication for mental illnesses if he had not told her. I think that is one thing people often don’t realize. People with mental illnesses can live normal lives when they’re getting treatment.

One stat that always astounds me is how many people say they would not socialize with a friend who has a serious mental illness. Do people not realize how many people around them suffer from mental illnesses? Considering that 1 in 5 people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their life, you’ve probably socialized with many people who have mental illnesses. How would you respond if you knew about their mental illness?

1 in 5 canadiansThe stigma around mental illnesses stop people from getting help. I know when I was going through my struggles of my own mental health, for many years I didn’t tell anyone about them because I thought they would think of me differently and I was ashamed of my struggles.

We also have a tendency to label people with their illnesses. We make it part of their identity. Someone doesn’t have schizophrenia, they are schizophrenic. Someone doesn’t have bipolar depression or manic depression, they are bipolar.

suffer in silenceThe same is not true of other illnesses. We don’t go around saying someone is cancer, someone is high blood pressure, someone is diabetes. No, we say they have cancer, high blood pressure, or diabetes. We don’t throw comments around like “Oh, he’s just cancer” or “She’s just diabetes.” But we do it for mental illnesses. “He’s just schizophrenic.” “She’s just depressed.”

We need to change the way we speak about mental illnesses and become aware and more knowledgeable about them.

The only time we really hear about mental illnesses in the media is when someone with one kills someone. We need to change the perception that people with mental illnesses are to be feared and are dangerous.1 out of 5 children

They are ordinary people who have illnesses that can be treated and they need our support. Be part of the conversation. Start talking about mental illnesses today and every day.

For more stats and to find out how you can help go to letstalk.bell.ca

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.