In Canada, Bell’s Speak Out Day was January 25th. If you’re on social media, of any type, you no doubt saw the tweets, posts, and changes in profile pictures to mark this day. So, hands up if you tweeted, typed or brought awareness to the Speak Out Day.
But here’s the real question; are we advocates for the decrease in stigmatization around mental health every day of the year, or just that one day? It’s easy for all of us to jump on the bandwagon when it’s the thing to do, when it’s popular and acceptable, but is it a belief that we hold year round?
Mental health issues have long been a source of embarrassment, seen as a default of character and often believed to be something the person could change if they were a “stronger” individual. We know that these are categorically NOT true, but these beliefs are deeply rooted in western society, and are tough to shake.
When we, on days such as the Speak Out Day, call for better services, the end of stigma, and care and compassion for those affected by mental health issues, we are making progress, we are taking steps, but the journey isn’t over.
The fear and stigma still exists. Sharing any mental health issues along the spectrum is a brave task that can, and sadly does, still see some backlash and judgement from family, employers and even the medical community.
So what’s the solution?
It probably starts with brave steps of those affected, it starts with sharing openly, with challenging the stigma if others try to discriminate against you, treat it as something that is less serious or real than a physical health issue. It continues with awareness and education on the larger societal level, and with family and friends on the personal level.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences sharing and dealing with mental health issues. It’s a conversation we all benefit from hearing and participating in.