“But you don’t look like someone with mental health issues….” Fact: Mental Illness has no “look” which makes it even more difficult for you to know if someone in your life is struggling.

“But you don’t look like someone with mental health issues….” Fact: Mental Illness has no “look” which makes it even more difficult for you to know if someone in your life is struggling.

According to the World Health Organization, one in four people worldwide suffer from some form of mental health illness at some point throughout their lives. Yet even with those staggering statistics, close to 75% of those diagnosed are afraid to tell their family and friends about their mental health diagnosis for fear of facing judgment, discrimination or stigma. 

Throughout history, people with mental health issues have been treated differently and have been made to feel as though these issues aren’t as significant as a physical health diagnosis would be. They are often made to feel as though they should be able to just “get over it” and it has been seen as “weak” to seek help from a professional.
“You don’t have anxiety…you just worry too much.” Fact: There are a variety of anxiety disorders that cause extreme physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, nausea, feelings of panic, and more.

Thankfully, initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk are around to help to break the stigma by ensuring that we remember to talk about mental health. As with most diseases, early diagnosis can play a significant role in the success of treatment. Be a part of the solution by breaking the myths and sharing the truths. Open, honest and transparent conversations about mental health help to ensure that the people around us don’t feel like they have to suffer in silence. 

“You aren’t depressed…you’re just sad.” Fact: While sadness is a normal human emotion, depression is feeling sad about everything and makes every aspect of your life less enjoyable.

If you suspect that someone in your life is struggling, here are 5 things you can do:

• Continue to be an active part of their lives. Stay in touch as often as you normally do, or even a little more. A quick call, text or message over social media can go a long way to ensure that they know that someone is there for them.

• Be empathetic and remind them that you care. Remember that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean that they aren’t in pain. Being compassionate and showing understanding can help make them feel more comfortable being open with you.

• Talk but make sure you listen too! Educate yourself on mental illness and learn about key warning signs that someone may need help from a professional. Talk openly to ensure they know that there is absolutely no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed and emphasize that seeking professional help does not make you weak.

• Don’t just talk about mental health. Once they have opened up to you, remember that their mental health doesn’t define who they are as a person, so don’t give them that label. Talk to them about other things – specifically things you know they are passionate about or about a new book you just read, a new movie you just watched…any normal everyday conversation!

• Be patient! Mental illness comes with ups and downs, good days and bad. The road to treatment and recovery can be a long and bumpy one and it is important to reassure them that you will be there through it all.
“What a drama queen! He/she is just an attention seeker.” Fact: Talking about mental health helps to break the stigma and start the conversation. Open dialogue helps to save lives by reminding people that there is help out there.

January 30th, 2019 is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Talk, Text, Tweet, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are all ways to participate in the conversation and help to raise money towards mental health initiatives. Use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on January 30th and do your part to eliminate the stigma around Mental Health. 

If you need professional counselling, reach out to our team in Calgary to book a free, no-obligation 15-minute phone call.