Mentall Illness Awareness Week is an annual national public education campaign designed to open the eyes of Canadians about the reality of mental illness.
It was started by the Canadian Psychiatric Association in 1992, and is now organized by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.
This year’s campaign runs Oct. 2 to 9 and there are a number of excellent events taking place in our community.
One particularly useful feature of this week’s events is the Beyond the Blues depression and anxiety screening days, taking place on Thursday and Friday of this week.
This year there will be two sites set up in town.
The first will be Thursday at Okanagan College in The Pit, from noon to 2 p.m.
On Friday, the screening will take place at the Rutland Y, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
If you are interested in learning more about depression or anxiety or would like to take part in the screening, simply walk up and some knowledgeable people will be there to assist you.
You can also find some of the screening tests and information online at www.heretohelp.bc.ca/connect/education-events.
On Oct 18, Vernon native Michael Schratter will ride through Kelowna as part of the Ride Don’t Hide tour.
Schratter is cycling around the world to battle stigma one pedal at a time. Everyone is invited to join him at 6 p.m. at the old KSS site and ride to Kelowna Cycle for a welcome home reception.
Mental illness directly affects roughly one in five Canadians and touches the lives of almost everyone.
Although we often think of media portrayals depicting ‘crazy’ people or those who are very disturbed, mental illness has many different faces and affects people from all walks of life.
Although just as common as many other chronic illnesses, mental disorders are concentrated not among our senior citizens but among men and women in their prime working years.
Among full-time employees in Canada, time lost due to mental health issues makes up almost 50 per cent of all work time lost for illness.
Many times, it takes years for a psychiatric illness to be diagnosed. Often people don’t seek help due to stigma and fear of the social and employment repercussions of being labelled as someone who is mentally ill.
This often costs people unnecessary years of their lives and many opportunities both personally and professionally.
Depression and anxiety are some of the most commonly occurring mental illnesses.
Depression is characterized by more than simply feelings of sadness.
A range of emotional symptoms including sadness, hopelessness and helplessness are also usually accompanied by a loss of interest in enjoyable activity, social withdrawal, irritability, aches and pains, fatigue and appetite changes to name a few.
This is generally a chronic, recurring disorder that continues throughout a person’s adult life.
Several different kinds of anxiety disorders exist and one of the most common is Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
With this condition, individuals worry about many different things and experience many of the physical symptoms also found in depression including aches and pains, fatigue, irritability, etc. It is also a chronic condition.
Fortunately, effective treatments are available for both depression and anxiety disorders.
At Okanagan Clinical Trials we also have ongoing studies in both depression and generalized anxiety disorder.
If you are an adult experiencing one of these conditions, you may be eligible to participate.
Contact our office for a free, no obligation medical assessment and to learn more about these opportunities—250-862-8141.
Paul Latimer is a psychiatrist and president of Okanagan Clinical Trials.