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:
- Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
- Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
- Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
- Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
- Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.
- Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds. Sadly, Canada has the third highest suicide rate for youths in the industrial world.
- Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
- The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.
We can start to help those affected by mental illness 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 helps youths who are suffering from depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and other mental health concerns or who just need someone to listen to them. 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 (especially cyber-bullying). This topic is finally receiving national attention, and there are numerous resources available. The Kids Help Phone website at http://kidshelpphone.ca/Teens/InfoBooth/Bullying.aspx?gclid=CI7K2ciVpbUCFfBDMgodKV8AyA 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, http://www.stopabully.ca/bullying-resources.
In Canada, there are also numerous other Internet and local resources for those of all ages seeking help. For a list of crisis intervention resources in the province of Ontario, please visit http://ontario.cmha.ca/mental-health/services-and-support/crisis-support/. For further information and to locate the chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association nearest to you, please visit the Canadian Mental Health Association website at http://www.cmha.ca/.
This Wednesday, January 28, 2015, Bell Canada is sponsoring its fifth annual “Let's Talk” Day. The four pillars of the Let's Talk initiative are anti-stigma; care and access; workplace health; and research. To download a complete copy of the "Let's Talk" toolkit, please visit http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/toolkit.
Mental health is a global concern. Please check your internet and local resources if you live outside Canada.
Let's help put a human face on this suffering and end the silence.