By Filomena Tassi
Mental health is a part of almost everyone’s life. It touches all of us: some experience mental illness personally, some of us interact with someone who has mental illness. Modern life isn’t easy and many people struggle to maintain a healthy balance in all aspects of life.
Earlier this month, Canadians celebrated Mental Health Week, a time for everyone to remember that looking after our mental health and well-being is important. We are also reminded to stop the stigma of mental illness by opening our minds and hearts to those who live with challenges. Continue reading
By Matthew Loeb
“He is sooo OCD,” I overhear a 20-something snarkily remark to a friend.
The hair on my skin crawls. As someone with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — one from a psychiatrist, not Urban Dictionary — I bristle. Sure, the remark was insensitive, even callous, but here’s why I cringe: the seemingly innocuous remark perpetuates public misperceptions. Continue reading
By Joy D’Souza
On Sunday night, Kensington Palace announced a new initiative on behalf of Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The trio are leading the #HeadsTogether campaign, a charity that aims to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
It’s a topic close to all three young royals’ hearts. In 2015 Prince Harry spoke openly about the lack of support available to soldiers facing mental health issues.
For his part, Prince William has worked closely with mentally ill homeless people and those contemplating suicide through his job as an air ambulance pilot, Today reports.
The Duchess of Cambridge has also been a long time advocate for children’s mental health. Earlier this year, the Duchess even championed a Young Minds Matter series for The Huffington Post UK.
“Mental health is just as important as physical health,” the Duchess said in a PSA for the charity. “We can all play our part by helping and listening to each other and helping each other find support,” Prince Harry added before his big brother, William, concluded “Let’s get our heads together and change the conversation of mental health.”
Despite its infancy, Heads Together has been chosen as the 2017 London Marathon Charity of the Year. Prince Harry has served as royal patron for The London Marathon Charitable Trust since 2011.
One year ago today a national student mental health initiative was born. The Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench, also known as #YellowIsForHello, was launched in response to the alarming rate of mental health issues and suicides among Canadian secondary and post-secondary students.
WireService.ca Press Release (04/20/2016) – Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among Canadians aged 15 – 34, according to statistics provided by the University of Guelph. That does not include the number of students who have considered suicide or who have dropped out due to depression or other mental health-related issues. Those statistics have a deeply personal meaning for Friendship Bench co-founder Sam Fiorella, whose son Lucas died by suicide in 2014. Hoping to raise awareness of mental health issues and prevent future tragedies, Fiorella and his friends launched #YellowIsForHello on April 21, 2015, Lucas’ birthday. Continue reading
Mental health problems are surprisingly common. Did you know that, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), each year, one in five adults will experience some kind of mental health issue? Studies at SAMHSA show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely, but how we talk in general about mental health affects the road to recovery.
One major barrier to recovery is stigma — the veil of shame and blame that surrounds mental health problems. According to experts, this “fear” of mental health problems is a major problem in itself.
“Stigma gets in the way of treatment and recovery,” said Elizabeth Irvin, co-chair of the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition and executive director of The Women’s Initiative. “Stigma makes it hard to find a job and a place to live. It keeps people from getting the treatment they need. The language that we use when we talk about mental health can have enormous impact on the way people facing these difficulties and their friends and families respond to the challenges.”
By Hugh Macaulay
It is no secret that the stigma attached to mental illness is the result of two things, ignorance and fear, and that the former feeds the latter.
We acquire the majority of our knowledge about the world through the media. If our understanding of mental illness is so lacking that we remain in a state of ignorance, then it makes sense to look at the way we digest news, and to strive for a higher degree of personal media literacy. In this way, we can avoid falling into the trap of misunderstanding and its unfortunate consequences.
The first step in this process is to understand the nature of the news business, and how the typical journalist’s dedication to objective news gathering must coexist with the needs of media owners. Continue reading
The health professions make a grave mistake when they treat mental illnesses as “discrete brain conditions that are largely genetically determined and barely influenced by the slings and arrows of misfortune,” writes clinical psychologist and researcher Richard Bentall.
VIDEO BELOW: Mental health activist Eleanor Longden discusses the voices she has heard in her head throughout her adult life, where she believes they come from and how she came to live an “exciting, enjoyable life” in spite of them. Continue reading
Province focuses on prevention, reducing stigma
Ontario is putting in place a number of new initiatives to help prevent or mitigate the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among first responders.
Evidence shows that first responders such as police personnel, firefighters and paramedics are at least twice as likely as the general population to suffer from PTSD, due to the risk of routine exposure to traumatic stressors.
The province’s prevention strategy has four major elements:
• The creation of a radio and digital campaign aimed at increasing awareness about PTSD amongst first responders, their families and communities and eliminating the stigma that too often prevents those in need from seeking help
• An annual leadership summit to be hosted by the Minister of Labour to highlight best practices, recognize leaders, and monitor progress in dealing with PTSD
• A free online toolkit with resources on PTSD tailored to meet the needs of employers and each of the first responder sectors
• Grants for research that supports the prevention of PTSD.
Ensuring employers have the resources they need to improve mental health supports is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.
• PTSD involves clinically significant distress and impairment to functioning, and the development of certain types of symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic events. It can include painful flashbacks, nightmares, outbursts, thoughts of suicide and feelings of worry, guilt or sadness.
• On March 5, 2015, Ontario hosted the Summit on Work Related Traumatic Mental Stress. The province’s strategy builds on the dialogue and feedback from the Summit.
It’s time society “lost the shame” associated with mental illness, says one of Canada’s leading authors.
Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and other acclaimed works, was in London Friday to speak at Huron University College and to mental health experts and donors at a private fundraiser for London Health Sciences Foundation.
When it comes to mental illness, Hill has a lifetime of experience. He lived with it, first with his bipolar mother, Donna, then his late sister, Karen, who suffered from the same ailment for more than 20 years, all the while working on her one and only book, a novel, Cafe Babanussa, that Hill is currently promoting. Continue reading
‘And why can’t you work full-time? You don’t look disabled to me. Aren’t people like you scamming welfare and disability?”
If I had a dollar for every time I encountered the inherent misunderstanding in such a comment, the surplus funds could potentially solve the tragedies engendered by such thinking.
“I have Parkinson’s disease.”
I desperately yearn for this statement’s veracity, for “Parkinson’s” would stand as a legitimate and respectable response to the inquiry, releasing me from the need for further justification. Continue reading