There is a lot of stigma around mental illness because we don’t understand it, we fear it. Knowledge increases understanding which in turn will lessen the stigma.

Statistics shows 1 in 5 people will suffer from a mental health problem in their lifetime and yet most people never talk about it. People lose jobs, and friends because of their mental illness, mostly due to stigma. Can biology, chemistry, the environment, genetics, and stress all be a factor resulting in mental illness? Yes, there is evidence that all of these can affect our mental health. We need to change how people look at mental health issues. Mental illness awareness week is from October 4-10th 2015 in Canada.

There is still a lot more behind mental illness that scientists are learning but don’t understand yet themselves. So, just like no one would place judgment on you for having a broken leg or cancer, no one should judge or stigmatize those with a mental illness either. Mental illness is beyond our control. People with physical ailments get our sympathy, and those with mental illness deserve to be shown the same understanding.  There should be no shame when someone is ill. We need to treat all people with kindness, compassion, and empathy.

There are lots of people who have mental health challenges in the entertainment industry and in other occupations. There are many very successful people living with mental illness. Demi Lovato, a singer who works in the entertainment industry in the USA has Bipolar disorder and is very successful in her career. I also live with mild Bipolar and anxiety disorder as well as having developmental disabilities.  I take medication for it which helps me to be as normal as I can be. I run a newsletter business in Kamloops that is very successful despite my challenges. Most people see the mental illness rather than the successes people are achieving despite their challenges in life. We all need to see people for who they are first. People should be celebrated for their abilities rather than disabilities or mental illness!

It’s important to watch your language and don’t call us names; we already have one name, friend, brother, sister, and worker etc. These are positive names, not bad names like crazy, loony etc.  People should feel safe at work and at disclosing their mental health problems, without fear of being discriminated against.

The BC Government should deal with mental illness stigma in schools and in the workplaces. If we can teach teenagers about mental health and mental illness in a health class the same way sex education is covered that would be one way to reduce the stigma around mental health. There should be stronger laws and consequences in dealing with discrimination in the workplace so you do not feel stigmatized from your employer. Employers have a legal responsibility to accommodate you whether have a mental health issue or other disabilities. It would be good to have a mapping tool to share information on good places to work that do not discriminate.

Stigmatization does not only occur with strangers, but with friends and family also. This results in one feeling isolated and alone to the point of feeling hopeless and that’s when many suicides occur. Let’s all be the solution instead of the problem!  Everyone in society can make a difference. Please check in with those who are struggling to see if they are okay and let them know any time they need you, you are there for them. Such hospitality shows you care about them.

Let’s create a stigma-free Canada. RIP for all the victims who died by suicide.

Have a great day. It’s great.

Here are some links about mental health. I hope you enjoy it, and that’s pretty much it.

Demi Lovato gets vocal about mental illness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIF-9ORx550

 

CBC – The National: Breaking the Silence

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtO2L5x7iXg