May 2 to 8 is Mental Health Week and the Canadian Mental Health Association is challenging us all to #getloud.
What does this mean? It means raising our voices to show support for those struggling with mental health issues. It means helping to raise awareness and standing up for friends, family, co-workers and others who often feel alone.
Nearly one in five of us experience mental health issues yet there is still stigma associated with these conditions and their treatment.
Consider this—how would you react if you were diagnosed with a mental illness such as depression or anxiety? How would you respond if your doctor suggested you take an antidepressant medication or visit a therapist? Would you feel differently than if your doctor recommended an antibiotic? A blood pressure medicine? Would you try to work it out for yourself before taking your doctor’s advice? Or would you be worried about the pharmacist seeing your prescription?
If you met a friend who asked what your doctor’s appointment was concerning or why you were taking medication, would you be as likely to acknowledge a mental illness as you would a heart condition or diabetes?
For many people the answer to this last question is no—and it’s an indication that significant stigma still exists when it comes to mental health.
If we hope to eliminate this prejudice in our society, we all need to start by examining our own minds to find where we might have hidden misconceptions about mental illness.
When we sort through our own feelings and get correct information, we can then speak up to help raise awareness and support for those around us.
A very tangible and tragic consequence of stigma is the one million suicides that take place around the world every year. It is estimated that 90 per cent of those result from undiagnosed or untreated mental illness.
Diagnosis and treatment can reduce suicides, duration and severity of illness and disability and can vastly improve quality of life for those experiencing these conditions.
So #getloud. Share your stories and show your support. The louder we are, the bigger difference we can make.
The Kelowna chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association wants you to join their campaign. Visit okgetloud.com and take part.