Talking about mental illness is difficult. I get it. But what is even more difficult is people saying they accept me for who I am and then deserting me. As soon they hear something good has happened to me they're the first people to want to celebrate with me, yet they don't want to hear about the dark side of mental illness.
Mental health is currently on the forefront of two TV shows that I'm keeping an eye on. Half of my friends believe highlighting the struggles of those with mental illness in a fictional manner only furthers the stigma. The other half believes Hollywood has the ability to use its magic to accurately depict the day-to-day life of those with mental illness.
The events in Newtown sparked a lot of discussion on gun control and the media's representation of children following violent events. However, as is the case with most well-covered human tragedies, mental health discourse was decidedly missing from the reporting. "Evil visited this community today," the Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said following the shooting. Such words are not uncommon following acts of violence, but their prominence still made me cringe. I have to ask, whose "evil" are we talking about when we classify this tragedy as such?
With the recent, tragic, and unnecessary death of bullying victim Amanda Todd, I believe that it is time to talk about suicide openly. Having the nation begin to talk about bullying and suicide prevention should have happened a long time ago. I am sad that it has taken an end to a life to begin talking about suicide so openly but it is something we must talk about to prevent it.
Thursday, September 13, 2012 marks the 4th Annual Hats On For Awareness gala! The event started in 2008 by my good friend Enza Cecchia and her partner in this crusade, Benny Caringi. Like all previous events, this is a night to bring attention to those suffering in the shadows of mental illness and addiction. I was lucky enough to interview Enza & Benny who shared some pretty jaw-dropping facts about mental illness.
In my last post I talked about words we use everyday and the context in which we use them that could come across as offensive to those with mental illness. However, as an advocate I could do more to make the public aware of the positive things they can say or do to support those mental health difficulties.
Maybe it's just me but I feel that, as a society our vocabulary is a little less filtered then what it was 10 or 15 years ago. Are we so crunched for time that we no longer think about what we say and how it could affect others before we say it? I began to wonder...what words or phrases do we say or use everyday that offend those who have mental health difficulties?
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto launched an awareness campaign today in the hopes of bringing attention to the stigma those with mental illness face to help defeat it. The ads quote some of the most common things those of us with mental illness hear. These are the ones I encounter most frequently.
Recent statistics show that at least one in five of us will have some sort of mental illness over the course of our lifetime. My hope is that there can come a point when it won't matter that you live with mental illness. But until then the best way to reduce stigma is to talk and educate yourself. The more often we have a discussion, the more we learn.
Would you ever hesitate to tell your boss the reason that you have a runny nose is because you have the flu? The obvious answer to that question is, no. Then why do we hesitate to talk to our employer about mental illness? My dream is that anybody living with mental illness can have the same dialogue with their employers that I currently enjoy.