Monday, 11 February 2013

Let's Talk About Mental Illness

Photo © 2013 Tim D. McCann
One in five Canadians will suffer some form of mental illness during their lifetime. Nevertheless, fighting the stigma of mental illness is an ongoing battle in which victory is long overdue.  Research shows that:
  • over 50% of people living with mental disorders said they were embarrassed by their health problems and had experienced discrimination;
  • almost 50% of Canadians thought mental health was an excuse for poor behavior;
  • less than one-third of Canadians would continue to be friends with someone with an alcohol-use problem;
  • less than one-quarter of Canadians would continue to be friends with someone with a drug-use problem.
 (Statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association Fact Sheet at

We can help those affected by mental illness simply by debunking the myths associated with it. For example, many adolescents (and adults) think that depression is just part of “growing up” and will disappear on its own, but we need to appreciate instead that depression may be a life-long challenge. The Kids Help Phone has published a fact sheet with tips for youths who are suffering from depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and other mental health issues, and advice on how to separate the myths from reality. This fact sheet is available at  The telephone number for the helpline in Canada is 1-800-668-6868. 

One of the underlying causes of depression and suicide in adolescents is bullying.  This topic is finally receiving national attention, and there are numerous resources available.  The Kids Help Phone website at
has extensive information on this subject and also has a bullying forum where teens can post questions.  In addition, many websites now provide resources to combat bullying, including incident reporting for schools.  See, for example,

On February 12, 2013, Bell Canada is sponsoring its third annual “Let's Talk” Day. The four pillars of the Let's Talk initiative are: workplace mental health; research; community care and access; and anti-stigma.  To download a complete copy of the Let's Talk toolkit, please visit

In Canada, there are also numerous other Internet and local resources for those of all ages seeking help. 
For further information, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association website at

Mental health is a global concern.  Please check your Internet and local resources if you live outside Canada.  One of the most alarming statistics I encountered when I began  my research was the following: around the world, someone commits suicide every 40 seconds (Source:

Let's help put a human face on this suffering and end the silence.


  1. In the UK I believe it's one in four but there is still a stigma attached. Let's talk will hopefully raise awareness at least.

    1. Thanks very much for your comment. One in four is quite a number....

  2. What an excellent post, and it's imperative to keep putting this out there, and never stop helping and guiding those in need. Right now here in my own state lawmakers are battling over which guns to have or not have, like that is going to solve, or put an end to the shootings taking place. More people, especially those passing laws need to stop turning their backs on the real issues at hand- this post is an excellent example. Bravo!

  3. I had to post this on my Facebook page, just last Sunday I sent 134 letters to our rep. in Minnesota's Capitol who think JUST banning guns is the only answer.

    1. Thank you so much, Karen, for both comments. I'm very gratified you liked the post, and I really appreciate the fact you posted it on your Facebook page in conjunction with your responses to MN legislative initiatives because I strongly believe increased attention to these issues is an essential complement to gun control initiatives.

  4. Thank you for this article. I was directed here by Karen S. My nephew suffers from schizophrenia and there is not a lot of help out there for folks in his situation. I am always interested in learning more, and will check out the links you provided as I have time.

    Kathy M.

    1. Thank you, Kathy, for your comment. Schizophrenia is a very difficult condition for sufferers and care givers alike. We need to work together like this to raise awareness and break down the barriers between those who need care and those who can help make it happen.

  5. The biggest stigma I have to face up to is my own, but I am shocked at the reaction of others when I say I have OCD.