Today is Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Day, which occurs at the end of January every year. I appreciate that a big corporation is trying to support mental health initiatives, and is trying to get the conversation about mental health going, so that there is less stigma attached to it. I am currently pursuing my Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology, so I basically talk about mental health every day at this point. And yet, I find that this initiative reminds me to get more people involved in the conversation.
Mental health falls along a continuum, and many people are not in great mental health all of the time, which is the same as physical health. I’m not. I’ve had a lot of anxiety in the past, had short bouts of depression, and experienced some relationship trauma when I was young. Though I didn’t see a therapist at the time for most of this, seeing one now has helped me work through any lingering issues from past experiences, and helped me develop coping skills (hey, hey, mindfulness!) to deal with any reoccurrences.
And it’s not just me. I have several family members who have admitted to struggles with anxiety and depression. Friends who have experienced those issues as well. Friends who have dealt with trauma. I know people who have been diagnosed with personality disorders and more severe mental illness. Friends and family who have struggled with grieving processes. In some cases, no help was sought and ultimately not needed – many people can get over depression on their own without professional help, it just takes longer. In other cases, medication or therapy has been utilized. And in others, no help has been sought, even though it probably should. A lot of the time no one wants to talk, or only does with select people, because of stigma. But stigma only goes away when we talk about it. Use opportunities to educate yourself and others. Think of mental health, the same way you think of physical health. Would you be embarrassed by a heart problem? By an autoimmune disease? By a severe allergy? If the answer is no, then don’t be embarrassed about any mental health struggles you do have. You can get through it, and talking about it is a good start.