January 25th, 2017 marks the day of Bell’s Let’s Talk annual campaign to raise awareness and end the stigma associated with mental illness. This massively successful campaign has helped to open the conversation surrounding mental health and as a result millions of people feel less alone after finding resources to deal with their illness.
We recognize the importance of this day as well as the need to keep the conversation going year-round; to shed light on the stigma surrounding mental illness and strategies to help you, or a loved one, get the help needed to live a healthy life.
There are so many different forms of mental illness. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, OCD, grief, and phobias among many others. Each of these cases is vastly different from one-another and require specific forms of treatments. Often times because of the stigma surrounding mental illness a person’s struggles are shrugged off and not taken seriously by their family, friends, or employers. We all must do better to help ourselves and the people in our lives who are struggling.
Here’s a question for you: when you feel a sharp pain in your abdomen do you just wait for the pain to go away on it’s own? Or do you make an appointment to see a medical professional? If you are seeing a medical professional for a physical health condition, you should be doing the same for a mental health issue. One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness in the span of a year. Further, only one in three of those who are affected will actually seek and receive adequate treatment for their issue. We need to change these statistics.
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, people are most likely to consult their family physician about a mental health problem or illness than any other health care provider. Community peer support groups for mental illness have also been shown to help reduce hospitalization and symptoms.
If you’re a person who is dealing with your own mental illness here are some strategies to help you manage and improve your quality of life:
- Talking to a medical professional or peer support group
- Journalling has been proven to help clarify your thoughts and feelings, reduce stress, and it helps you to get to know yourself better
- Talk about it. It seems redundant but being honest and not shying away from how you are feeling can make a big difference
If you’re a person who isn’t directly dealing with your own mental illness but knows a friend or family member who is, here are a few ways you can help to end the stigma:
- Listen and ask. Being that person that someone can open up to can often be the first stage of helping that person get on a healthy track
- Show your kindness. “Get over it” is not a helpful solution to someone dealing with a serious mental illness. Instead try “I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling this way, what can I do to help?”
- Study up! Do some research on statistics and facts to bust some common myths and help and the stigma
We are committed to doing our part to bring awareness to mental health and will do more features throughout 2017. Don’t forget to do your part either! On #BellLetsTalk day every text, call, tweet, Instagram post, Facebook video view and Snapchat geofilter donating 5 cents to mental health initiatives. Let’s end this stigma once and for all!