Unfortunately we live in a society where there is still a stigma around mental health. It’s especially saddening when you consider mental illness affects all Canadians at some time, whether personally, through a family member, friend or colleague.
Taking the stigma out of mental health begins with understanding how many people it affects, regardless of race, their social standing, politics, or bank balance. It does not discriminate. Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), says:
By comparison we widely accept other diagnoses without the fear and stigma towards those experiencing them. The Government of Canada says about 1 in 12 (or 2.4 million) Canadian adults over the age of 20 live with heart disease, 1 in 10 Canadians suffer from a thyroid condition, osteoporosis will affect 1 in 4 women and more than 1 in 8 men over the age of 50. We do not deny our friends, family, or even complete strangers empathy for suffering from these physical conditions. Why should mental illness be any different?
Check yourself: are you judging someone with mental health issues? Have you ever described someone with depression as just being lazy and thought they should just “snap out of it”? Or have you thought that someone with anxiety is just being irritable? Would you offer the same judgement to someone who has broken their leg, or who has the flu, or has cancer? It would be better to express empathy to someone with a mental health issue in a similar way toward someone with any other health issue.
Be kind to others, take the time to really listen to your friends and family, and have empathy for strangers. You never know what they have been through, and how your judgement can hurt them. Ask how people are feeling, if they are ok, and how you can help. Tell them you care for them, and how important they are to you. Honour their feelings, and ask if they’d like to talk.
Finally, watch your language, because the words we use have an impact. Avoid using words like “crazy”, “schizo”, “wacko”, “insane”, regardless of what you’re describing.
Almost half of Canadians who have experienced depression or anxiety have never been to see a doctor about it. The stigma attached to mental health issues, and the discrimination that people experience, may prevent them from getting the help they need.
Remember the statistics: one day, it might be you with a mental health challenge. Truehope will be there to support you.
What are your experiences around the Stigma of Mental Illness?
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We want to provide nothing but the highest quality information and advice for our followers to improve their health, which is why at Truehope Canada, we're happy to say our writer is a Certified Life Coach and Registered Holistic Nutritionist.