To the Editor,
Bell Let’s Talk Day happens Jan. 28. The goal is to start a Canada-wide conversation about mental health. It’s a very important conversation to have.
As a mother, grandmother, author, family counsellor at a drug and alcohol treatment centre and recovering addict, I want to add a piece to the mental health conversation – addiction. One in five Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem. Mental illness can be described as an impairment of one’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors. The more severe the diagnosis, the more one’s life will be impacted, ranging from functioning to disabled.
Many of us have experienced some form of mental illness over our lifetime. We all know what it feels likes to be depressed or anxious.
There are many of us too, that have ‘tied one on,’ or had ‘one too many.’ Mental health and addiction can often go ‘hand in hand.’ Some addicts and alcoholics use to feel better or to self-medicate.
Both of these illnesses are very treatable, and yet many will not come forward due to the shame and stigma attached. There are some who still believe addiction and mental health issues are moral character flaws, or signs of a weak-willed individual.
Mental illness and addiction are not easy topics to discuss. They’re downright uncomfortable. However, avoiding difficult conversations only adds to the problem. Silence kills.
It’s time we move beyond the stigma of mental health and addiction and learned to celebrate the joy and hope of recovery.