Let’s Talk About Mental Health

There are some things we need to talk about, not only today, but always. They are important things that tend to get swept under the rug because, for whatever reason, people see them as a source of discomfort or worse, shame. Today is as good a day any to raise the subject, though. In fact, today is a better day than most, because every time today that this post – or any other message – is tweeted with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell Canada will donate 5c to mental health initiatives. 5c may not seem like a lot, but it all adds up.

So let’s talk.

Let’s talk about the fact that this year, one in five Canadians will experience mental illness or addiction.

Let’s talk about the fact that 70% of mental health problems originate during childhood or adolescence.

Let’s talk about the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 10-19.

Let’s talk about the fact that four thousand Canadians will die from suicide this year.

And yet…

Mental illness, in spite of making up about 15% of health problems in Canada, receives less than 6% of funds allocated to health care.

While the vast majority of us will openly discuss a family member’s cancer diagnosis with friends, less than half of us would talk about a diagnosis of mental illness.

42% of Canadians are unsure whether they would be friends with someone who has a mental illness.

It’s a little mystifying why people are so hesitant to talk – really talk – about mental illness. It costs the economy billions of dollars a year in lost productivity and it is the second leading cause of disability and premature death in Canada. There is such a strong correlation between mental health and physical health. If more people received mental health services, how many physical illnesses could be averted?

The problem is not only one of access. All the access in the world does no good if people are so ashamed of their mental illnesses that they don’t seek help. And that is why we need to talk. Because the more we talk, the less of a stigma this becomes, and the more lives can be saved.

By Kirsten Doyle.

Statistics: Centre For Addiction & Mental Health. Picture credited to the Bell Let’s Talk initiative.


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Copyright Kirsten Doyle