Mental health is a level of psychological wellbeing, and can affect us all in one way or another. In fact, one in five Canadians will experience some sort of mental health issue in their lifetime, meaning either you or someone you know will likely be affected at some point. Sadly though, there still remains a stigma to mental health that prevents two-thirds of those living with a mental health issue from seeking help.
This is why campaigns that help reduce this stigma and promote awareness and understanding of mental health are so important. On January 31st, Bell Let’s Talk Day invites Canadians – and those around the world – to join the conversation and confront the stigma around mental health. For every text, call, tweet or social media share made on this day, Bell will donate money to mental health initiatives here in Canada. The program began in 2010 as a way to dispel the stigma and shame surrounding mental health. Since then Bell Let’s Talk Day has donated more than $86 million to mental health initiatives, and its hashtag #BellLetsTalk is the most used Twitter hashtag ever in Canada.
But the conversation needs to continue even after campaigns such as this end. Here are five simple things all of us can do every day to help end the stigma and make it easier for those who struggle with mental illness to get the help they need:
Language matters: While the words we choose to use when talking to someone have the ability to make all the difference, the wrong words can also hurt and hinder. Be mindful when choosing your words, and think about what you would like to hear.
Educate yourself: The stigma of mental health has been around for a long time and knowing the facts and myths about mental illness can be a great way to help end it. Read about facts and myths and become a stigma-buster.
Be kind: Simple acts of kindness can make a world of difference. A smile, a hug, or an invitation for coffee and a chat, sometimes just being present is enough to let someone know you are there for them.
Listen and ask: Being a good listener is important and asking how you can help can go a long way. Keep in mind that expressions like “You’ll get over it” and “Just relax” can minimize how a person is feeling. Instead offer your support and say “I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well.” Ask what you can do to help.
Talk about it: Mental illness touches us all in some way directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Stories of people who have experienced mental health issues and who are doing well can really challenge stereotypes. Most people with mental health issues can and do recover, just by talking about it.
For more information on Bell Let’s Talk Day click here.
Helpful Resources from Doctors or BC:
OpenMindBC.ca – this website is an information hub to provide access to an abundance of excellent tools and resources developed by a range of mental health organizations in BC and across Canada.
Reaching Out: Supporting Youth Mental Health in British Columbia – this policy paper contains a number of commitments and recommendations which support Doctors of BC’s policy of raising awareness in three areas: youth mental health, how to recognize mental illness, and where to get help when it is needed.
Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative – an initiative committed to increasing timely access to support and services for child and youth mental health and substance in BC.