Mental Health Awareness Week

May 3rd to 9th is the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

People often forget that mental illness is a disease just like diabetes or cancer. But it’s an invisible disease, and because of this many people don’t get proper treatment. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in society and especially in workplaces to provide support for people who are struggling from mental illness.

20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

I’m not as informed about mental health as I would like to me. Most of my information on advocacy comes from my friend Chris, who has a brave  and healthy attitude towards her own mental illness. Most of my experience comes from trying to be there for some of my friends. Some of it comes from my own issues.

Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.

Last year, I posted this review of a book where one of the main characters was a cutter. It was the first time I’ve ever been publicly open about my issues with cutting and other masochistic tendencies. I never sought treatment for it, but sometimes when I look back on how much pain I was in, especially in high school, I wish I that I had. I’m okay now, but not everyone is that lucky.

Today, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode.

Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15-24 year old Canadians, second only to accidents; 4,000 people die prematurely each year by suicide.

I hate how there is a stigma attached to getting help. Seeing a therapist means you’re crazy. Means there’s something wrong with you. This is so not true. In an ideal world, we would treat our mental health the way we treat our physical health - with yearly checkups and care and treatment for everyone.

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.

5 Comments

  • By Shaun McAlister, May 6, 2010 @ 10:36 am

    I know this post is focused on depression but my only experience with mental health comes from the issues involving Autism which my brother has (I will not say ’suffers from’) and the whole area needs looking at in this country as well. Especially when the leader of the Conservative Party goes on record saying that he was unaware of the specialist help available to his “special needs” (its in quotes because i HATE that term but i dont know what he was diagnosed with so needed something) son…That sort of thing just worries me…
    Thinking about it i do have another connection with depression. After 9/10 strokes my Nana has obvious mental health problems the highest being depression and yet the NHS refuse to treat her for it without first “giving” her another issue (Parkinsons I think is the current attempt) because the system is unwilling or unable to treat someone just for depression at her ‘advanced age’.
    I guess what I’m trying to say with all of this is that I agree with you Heather but feel guilty (?) for having strong opinions on something that I have never experienced myself…

  • By Hezabelle, May 6, 2010 @ 10:42 am

    You don’t have to HAVE a mental illness to be affected by it. I think your experience more than qualifies you to have an opinion about it. And it’s true, all of those issues exist in the Canadian health care system as well. You can’t get therapy covered unless your workplace has great health insurance. When sometimes even just a little bit of therapy can go a long way.

  • By Shaun McAlister, May 6, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

    I know for a fact, rather ironically, that my department of the NHS won’t cover any mental health treatment since they class it as an issue caused by non-work related matters. And when the National Health Service turns a blind eye to the issue in their own departments then its a serious concern. Maybe that needs alking about at the next election…

  • By Emily Jane, May 6, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing this and raising awareness this week. I’m passing the video along to my colleagues here in the office. I agree - you don’t have to HAVE a mental illness in order to be affected by it, and I do hope the stigma attached to seeking therapy can be lessened over time.

  • By Christine Sweeton *The Chris*, May 7, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

    Good post! Thanks for the kind words. I am one iwth my depression (we have an almost Zen-like relationship of acceptance and understanding.) However, I’m NOT ok with my ADD, it still upsets me to talk about and I don’t really understand it, nor do I truely have it under control. Hope you are well and a Happy Mental Health Week to everyone! (Those who have mental illness or otherwise!)

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