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Why we need to keep talking about mental health

Talking about mental health isn’t the easiest conversation to have. When gathering around the water cooler or sitting at the dinner table, mental health is usually low on the list of hot discussion topics.

This needs to change.

It’s important that we talk about mental health. It’s important that we remove the mystery and shame that can be associated with it. It’s important because, no matter whether we’re aware of it, people around us are struggling:

  • 46% of Albertans report experiencing depression or anxiety
  • 4.5 million Canadians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime
  • In Calgary on average, 4 to 8 teenagers are depressed in every classroom, but only 1 or 2 are getting help
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24

Stats are just numbers, but think for a minute about the numbers above.

These numbers mean that you probably know at least one person, if not many people, with a mental health issue. They could be your best friend, your co-worker, your child.

What can we do about this? What will you do? We have a simple suggestion: start by talking about it. It doesn’t take a lot and we can all do it.

We talked to some of our counsellors about why it’s important to start the conversation and build mental health awareness and here is a summary of what they had to say.

Everyone has the right to wellness

“I think resources to get help for mental health concerns need to be a lot more accessible. Everyone has the right to dignity, wellness and happiness. A stable and healthy mental well-being is at the core of everyone’s goals. Whatever you want to achieve in life, you need to be mentally healthy and accepting of yourself.”

Natalya Austin, Registered Social Worker

It reduces shame and stigma

“By talking about mental health, we raise awareness and reduce the stigma. Mental health used to be kept in the closet and people either felt ashamed about it or they didn’t have a clear understanding of it. By building awareness around the topic it also builds understanding.”

Christine Molohon, Registered Social Worker

It helps those who are struggling to feel less alone

“There’s still a secrecy around mental health issues. Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable talking about it. If there is a dialogue and we continue to openly talk about it, people who are struggling will feel less alone and know that there are others like them that are struggling as well. We need to keep talking about mental health so that there can be a better understanding of how to support people living with mental health concerns. When we educate parents and family and friends they can be there to support without judging or blaming. Mental health awareness inspires people to get help and inspires people to talk about it.”

Manroop Bal, Registered Psychologist

It normalizes a common human experience

“We all experience the feelings of grief, sadness, or stress and some point in our lives. But sometimes when those feeling happen, people can feel lost and strange. Talking about mental health and helping people to understand that some of our sufferings are like this, normalizes it. It makes the experiences accessible, treatable, and approachable.

“We need to have a different relationship with how we struggle and come to terms with these normal human experiences. As a community, we need to understand that grief may be a normal kind of injury just like any physical injury. If we look at it like an injury, we can treat it like one too. We can make it normal and accepted. This is part of what being a person is. We can approach each other and ourselves that way.

“Just because we’re raising awareness isn’t the same as committing to action. Becoming aware of an issue can sometimes be frightening. When I become aware of the suffering of others in a deeper and more authentic way I can sometimes be tricked into thinking that it’s my job to fix and resolve it but that’s not what this conversation is about. It’s about understanding mental health issues and recognizing that they can be a normal part of a person’s experience and that they are worthy of support and they can be supported. Sometimes mental health awareness is just being equipped with the knowledge to respond kindly to someone who is struggling or ourselves.”

Stephen Walker, Registered Social Worker.

You can help. Add your voice and start talking about mental health.

Share your opinions on why this is important with your family, friends and on social media. Helps us elevate this message. For the week of May 7 – 13, take the free anonymous online test to check in with your mental health.

#MentalHealthWeek

Let’s keep the conversation going. If you or someone you know needs help, reach out to us today at 403.691.5991 or fill out or online intake form here.

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