According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20% of Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime. It affects all of us at some time, whether personally, through a family member, a friend or colleague. Yet, because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness, many who are living with it do so in silence.
January 30th is Bell Let’s Talk Day, a day set aside to focus on conversations around mental health. To that end, we asked people in our Communitas community to tell us why they think it is important to talk about mental health. Here’s what they had to say:
I think it is important to talk about mental health because it helps to remove the mystery, stigma, and discrimination associated with those who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. The hope of getting well and staying well for long periods of time is not only possible but can now be a realistic expectation. Supportive connections and the opportunity to make meaningful contributions makes all the difference in people’s lives.
Jennifer Gagne, BA, Psych., CPRP
Peer Support Program Manager- Fraser East
Copeland Center WRAP Advanced Level Facilitator
Read Jennifer’s story.
In a society that values individual rights and privacy so highly, mental health struggles can quickly become a very isolating experience. It is by reaching out into community and sharing our stories that we begin to create spaces where we are able to support people and allow them to reclaim their place, re-imagining their journey in a new way. Each person’s journey is unique and when that journey is honoured we begin to build capacity for truly remarkable growth and development.
Centennial Place, Mission
It is important to recognize that people from all walks of life can have similar challenges to yourself and I think that’s why I’ve become so open about sharing my experiences with others.
Chills Delisle – volunteer Peer Support Worker
Read Chills’ story
Mental Illness is not a weakness, rather something to acknowledge as a unique opportunity to know ourselves to the fullest without doubt, ignorance, and as an unashamed imperfect being. As Hemingway writes: “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places”
Manager, Supported Independent Living
We need to break down the walls, get rid of the stigma and not feel shame. Together, we can influence world leaders, politicians, governments, and the general public raising awareness about mental health issues, so we can get more resources for individuals who are struggling with their illness and assist them in recovery so they can live the fulfilling life they deserve.
Mental Health / Peer Support Worker
Not everyone likes to talk about mental illness but for me it has been an important part of my recovery. I believe that mental illness thrives on secrecy and isolation; the longer we allow it to stay in the dark, the more opportunities it has to wreak havoc in our minds, hearts and lives. It wasn’t until I was able to openly admit that I had a problem and explain what made it so hard to let go of that I got the compassion and understanding I longed for. I was worried that if I told anyone about my mental illness and how drawn I was to hold on to it, I would receive judgment and anger. Instead, I received understanding and the courage to fight for my life. When I open my mouth to bring awareness to mental health I speak not only for myself but for those whose lives were silently stolen away, those who cannot yet speak for themselves and those in the future who could find themselves in a battle they neither want nor understand unless someone stands up and says “enough!”. I speak to remind myself of where I have come from and where I am going. I speak to remind myself that victory is mine. I speak to show others that recovery is possible because this anorexic was just that, an anorexic but now she is a woman, an ordinary woman, who struggles with anorexia.
Grace Robertson –Transitional Living Program participant
Read Grace’s story
On January 30th, for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of their Facebook frame, Snapchat filter or hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate 5cents towards mental health initiatives in Canada. So get talking – visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed and tell us why you think it is important to talk about mental health. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk!