The winter chill has really begun to set in over the past few weeks. You might be feeling a little down due to the end of the holiday season, but for almost fifteen percent of Canadians, the shift in weather causes notable depressive cycles more commonly referred to as the "winter blues". Another two percent of Canadians suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression causing severe depression during certain seasons. These forms of depression often run their course undiagnosed, and sufferers rarely discuss their symptoms due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. As such, victims of Seasonal Affective Disorder and the "winter blues" are at greater risk of suicide at this time of the year.
There is hope for these individuals, and for all sufferers of mental illness. Various government-funded programs and support groups exist for the sole purpose of helping sufferers of depression, addiction and other disorders in their journey towards recovery. To help them advantage of these resources we need to break the stigma surrounding mental illness. Bell Let's Talk Day aims to educate the general population about mental illness, and promote discussion surrounding its prevalence in today's digitally-driven society. By raising our voices together, we can make it easier for those who suffer from mental illness of all kinds to get the help they need. Read the facts below to learn more about mental illness in preparation for this much-needed health awareness day.
How many people suffer from mental illness in Canada? What effect does this have on my loved ones.
The Canadian Mental Health Association reports that one in five Canadians is experiencing a form of mental illness at any given time. In simpler terms, there is a good chance that you know someone who lives with the struggles of mental illness. Around half of all Canadians will personally experience a mental health disorder at some time during their lives. Although common, the effects of these disorders can be life-threatening when not handled accordingly. Suicide - commonly driven by mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety - is the leading cause of death amongst adolescents and young adults. The best way to prevent these deaths is with education and support.
What can I do to help on Bell Let's Talk Day?
Tweet about your experiences with mental illness, or send a text to a loved one who might be in need of a helping hand. Every social media post with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk will result in a five cent donation towards mental health initiatives. Alternate ways of supporting via call and text are also available.
Bell also offers a free mental health toolkit with all the information you need to build a positive space for mental health discussion wherever you are. Have a look at it by exploring the Let's Talk website below https://letstalk.bell.ca/en
How can I help those around me with mental illness?
Become a supporter of good mental health by practicing the following good habits:
Mind your language. Refrain from using harmful words like "schizo" or "crazy", and instead refer to mental illnesses and their sufferers with respect. After all, such disorders are not things to poke fun at; they drastically affect the way people live every day.
Empathize. Talking with mental illness sufferers help you gain a better understanding of their disorders, while letting them know that someone cares. Sometimes, even the smallest gesture of kindness can set the stage for recovery.
Stand up for those who can't. If you witness prejudice against those with poor mental health, do something about it! Confront the offenders and explain why their actions were wrong. Try to get them to see the issue from a new perspective. By educating others about the prevalence of mental illness in our society, we can make the world a safer place for sufferers, aiding them on the road to recovery.