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Stigma toward mental health as bad as the symptoms

Posted on March 10, 2015 by 40 Mile Commentator

One in five people in Canada will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime, with around 4000 Canadians dying from suicide each year, which comes out to an average of 10 per day. This can be lowered if the stigma towards mental illness wasn’t so rough for those suffering.
Mental health is the leading cause of disability in Canada, and so many are terrified to come forward because of how mental illness is heavily looked upon in not just the media but every day life, which can be even more devastating than the symptoms themselves. It’s so sad, that only half of Canadians tell their friends or co-workers that they have a family member with mental illness. To compare, a shocking 72 per cent will talk about a diagnosis of cancer.
Mental health is shrugged off in so many ways that it can get one thinking; what’s wrong with our access to services? Why do 46% of Canadians think of mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour? Don’t they know they are suffering?
Help must be improved to those with mental illness to not only save lives but to let people that are suffering know that they aren’t alone. Reaching out to those we know with mental health can go such a long way in helping those we love to maybe not recover fully, but to feel better and know that they are heard.
It is absolutely devastating to think of how many lives could be saved of those suffering from mental illness by knowing they aren’t alone, but its even more devastating that often times they are treated as if they should be alone. This is for that 27 per cent of people scared to talk to someone with mental illness or that 42 per cent of Canadians are unsure if they would even socialize with a friend or someone with the illness. Even with the larger percentage not being afraid to talk, why hasn’t the stigma improved? Unfortunately, around a third of Canadians who seek mental health care say that their needs are unmet or just kind of met. This is higher for children and youth, which is also contributing to the stigma.
Why have even so many actors and actresses in Hollywood with such a high fan base continue to commit suicide?
As the late Robin Williams said, ‘I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.’ That right there is the main reason for the stigma. It’s that stigma that has two thirds of Canadians not coming forward with their illness, and if we were to open up and tell people that we are ready to listen and not judge, and support and not leave, we would not only save lives, but help people out and let them know that they aren’t alone.

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