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Ending the stigma of mental illness

by Diandra D’Alessio January 26, 2016
Ending the stigma of mental illness

You’d go to the doctor if your leg hurt everyday, so why not seek help for mental health?

These past few weeks, you might’ve seen commercials supporting Bell’s annual Let’s Talk campaign, which takes place this year on Jan. 27.

Graphic by Florence Yee and the graphics team.

Graphic by Florence Yee and the graphics team.

The commercials feature people alternately  dismissing and then expressing genuine concern over their colleagues’ mental health issues. These ads highlight the often-taboo nature of mental illness and how it’s sometimes not taken seriously, but the facts show that mental illness and its consequences are all too real.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. It’s also estimated that 22 per cent of Canadians have mood or anxiety disorders, while roughly 3 million are currently battling depression.

Tragically, about 4,000 Canadians take their own lives each year, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadians aged 15 to 24 according to the same source.

With figures like these, chances are you or someone you know has experienced mental health issues, but there’s still stigma surrounding this. The Canadian Medical Association says that only a third of mentally ill people seek treatment, while others do not, sometimes out of fear or embarrassment.

But I speak from experience when I say that there’s no reason to be afraid or embarrassed when it comes to getting help. While I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness, I have suffered from chronic low self-esteem.

Full disclosure: I recognize that low self-esteem is not a mental illness, and I’m not trying to make light of depression, anxiety, or other disorders. However, my insecurities and failings would sometimes affect me to the point of breaking down and feeling hopeless.

Eventually accepting that this had to stop, I sought therapy two years ago. I only went for two sessions, but talking with a therapist confirmed what I already knew deep down.

I realized that my negative thoughts were all in my head and that I was being way too hard on myself. I still have my off days like everyone else, but because of therapy I’m in a much better place now and continue to learn to love myself.

I understand that sometimes counselling alone won’t cut it, and that some people’s cases require medication. There’s nothing wrong with that either.

What matters is that anyone who is suffering from mental illness gets the help he or she needs, and as soon as possible. Of course, the first step is to talk about it. I’m very fortunate to have a supportive circle of family and friends to turn to, and I realize that this is not always the case, but I promise you at least one person cares.

At least one person will lend you an ear and a shoulder to lean on. We owe it to ourselves to be happy, and while it’s important to be kind to each other, it’s just as important to be kind to ourselves.

To anyone dealing with mental health issues, know that you’re not alone, and that through getting help, it really does get better.

 

Note: Need someone to talk to on campus? Contact Concordia’s counselling and psychological services at Sir George Williams campus at (514) 848-2424, ext. 3545, and at Loyola at (514) 848-2424, ext. 3555.  concordia.ca/offices/counselling-psychological-services.html

Alternatively, visit amiquebec.org/listening-services/ for a list of mental health helplines in Montreal and across Canada.

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1 comment

HaroldAMaio January 26, 2016 - 11:42

— Ending the stigma of mental illness
You have somehow missed the point: You educate people directing that prejudice, you do not offer them or their prejudice validation credence.

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