Of Course I’m Fine! The Truth about Mental Health
“We need to take care of our mental well-being just like we take care of our physical health,” said Dr.Glynnis Lieb, who visited DECSA this week to speak about mental health. Lieb is the executive director of the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle for Mental Health and Addiction, and an enthusiastic advocate of mental well-being.
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 60% of people living with mental health conditions do not seek help because they fear being labelled. “We’re willing to be the helpers,” said Lieb. “We don’t want to admit that we’re the ones that need help.” We aren’t ashamed to get a cast for a broken leg, but we feel ashamed to get treatment for an anxiety disorder.
In a society where one in five of us lives with a mental health condition, we must replace our judgements and stigmas with understanding and acceptance. Lack of knowledge, over-simplified media representations, and long-standing social norms have made addressing mental health issues difficult at home and work. But many organizations, including the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Mental Health Foundation, are striving to make our mental health central to our pursuit of well-being.
You can be part of the fight to decrease stigma around mental health issues. Here are four ways you can actively promote a more positive and accurate view of mental health in your social circle:
- Be honest about your own mental health: Take a risk. When you are open about your mental health, you invite others to be open as well.
- Invite conversation: If you know others living with mental health conditions, work to understand them, their struggles, and their strengths. Understanding others is the first step toward accepting them and treating them well.
- Speak out against stigma and discrimination: When you notice others misunderstanding mental health conditions or mistreating people with mental health conditions, offer a different perspective.
- Educate yourself: Learn more about mental health conditions so that your ideas are complete and accurate.
To learn more about mental health and stigma in Canada, visit:
- The Mood Disorder Society of Canada’s Quick Facts: Mental Illness and Addiction in Canada
- This article from the Ottawa Citizen on how stigma affects Canadians living with mental health conditions
- The Website of the Canadian Mental Health Association
If you would like support or resources for your mental health or the mental health of someone you know, call Alberta Health Services at 1-877-303-2642 or visit their website at http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/mentalhealth.asp.
Dr.Lieb emphasized that social networks are essential to our well-being. “We’re not meant to be islands,” said Lieb. “We need to have social support systems.” Fear, judgement, and stigma can isolate people who are living with mental health conditions. But you don’t need a degree to listen to and support a struggling friend or family member.
“When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.” – Thema Bryant-Davis