And so if Mental Illness Awareness Week can offer us another opportunity to think about and discuss hard-to-talk-about topics, then it’s important.
The week started Sunday and continues until Saturday (Oct. 7) and is a national public education campaign promoted by the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Alliance on Mentall Illness and Mental Health.
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Other awareness weeks and initiatives throughout the year exist, and they have helped. We know this because every year we see and hear people come forward and talk about how they have confronted depression and other challenges on the broad continuum of mental health issues. We hear about how people have coped, how they will continue to cope, and what those around them can do to help.
More people than we expect are living with mental illness. It’s not something a lot of us will bring up, and it’s not something a lot of us will ask about. It’s easy not to ask. But we’ve heard before how much it can mean to not only ask someone how they’re doing, but then to listen to the answer, care, and have a conversation.
There are a lot of comparatively little things that happen in our day-to-day lives that we’re quick to complain about and address, while not bringing up some of what secretly matters much more. But we hope people feel like their mental well-being is something they can bring up. There is evidence, sometimes, that our society is becoming more modern and accepting, and fewer and fewer of us equate mental illness to weakness.
The mental health alliance wants this awareness week to play a role that way, in reducing negative stigma and promoting the positive effects of prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
To learn more, visit www.cmha.bc.ca or www.camimh.ca. Better yet, talk about mental health. Mental illness will affect us one way or another, but there are always opportunities to impact how those conversations start and where they lead.