Yesterday was “Bell Let’s Talk” day. OK, let’s do that.
I worked in the mental health field, suffered from occasional bouts of anxiety and have supported family members who have required hospitalization. I want to share 3 beliefs that directly affect Mental Illness recovery outcomes and one action we can all take in 2015.
Mental illness is a physical disease and I can prove it. It starts in the brain. The brain is a physical organ. This means it is a brain disorder. Therefore it is a physical disease.
A supportive and caring environment make all the difference. These illnesses are complex conditions that are worsened through judgment or blaming. Education is key to reduce the notions that people are weak, lazy or doing something to cause their mental illness. Tackling stigma, we improve outcomes as well as reducing recovery times. Shaming has no place in ANY illness.
People are not a mental illness. They are not schizophrenic, or bi-polar but rather suffer from those illnesses. Saying “we are” something makes it part of our identity and suggests a personal flaw. Saying, “they suffer from” something makes the illness the problem; not the person. Even though they may knock us down for awhile; our illnesses do not define us.
What can we do this year?
First, a few Statistics:
100% of people are or will be affected by mental illness in their lives through a friend or a family member.
At least 1 out of 5 of us are going to develop a serious mental illness in our lifetime. (Stigma causes under-reporting, making it difficult to get accurate data so they’re sure it’s a much higher number.)
42% of people would rather not be around someone who suffers from, or has suffered from, a mental illness.
80% of people suffering from depression get well with treatment.
YET: 90% of the people suffering from depression cannot access services or therapy.
Let’s do this:
This is an election year in Canada. It’s time to start thinking about what we want our elected officials to focus on when elected. Every illness increases the likelihood of someone developing depression or anxiety. We must include mental health checks and support with all serious illness protocols.
Be an advocate for improved mental health services before it’s your turn to need those same services.