At Alectra, we are proud to join millions of Canadians nation-wide by participating in Bell Let’s Talk. The goal is to end the stigma and to explore ways to improve our mental health.
Mental health issues affect people of all ages and takes on many forms including depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, to name a few. Most individuals find ways to cope and live with their illness but the way they are treated by others often proves more of a challenge than the illness itself. As a result of the stigma, two thirds of those suffering from mental health issues are too afraid to seek the help that they need.
That’s why we are joining the conversation around mental health. Bell Let’s Talk is a multi-year charitable program dedicated to the promotion and support of mental health across Canada. Our goal is to create a concerted effort to confront the stigma to keep the conversation going all year long until every day is an okay day to talk about mental health.
A key to improving our mental health involves finding and practicing balance in all aspects of life; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially.
Here are some ways that we can incorporate into our everyday lives to help end the stigma around mental illness.
- Remembering that language matters
The words you use make all the difference. Be mindful of how you reference mental health, so you don’t make a person feel ashamed. Here are some examples of appropriate language choices when discussing mental health issues:
Instead of: schizophrenic
Say: person with schizophrenia
Instead of: mentally ill, victim, crazy
Say: person with a mental illness
Put the person first and don’t refer to people by their illness. By being informed about all the different types of mental illnesses you will avoid accidentally making statements that could potentially offend others. The goal is to speak up about the stigma and not empower jokes or let misinformation go.
- Act with kindness
Kindness can make a world of difference. Whether it’s a smile, being a good listener or extending someone an invitation for a coffee and chat, these simple acts can help open up the conversation and let someone know you are there for them.
Avoid using expressions like, “you’ll get over it” and “just relax”. They minimize how a person is feeling. Offer your support instead and say something like, “I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well”.
- Keep yourself educated
Stigma around mental health has been around for a long time, and knowing the facts and myths about mental illness can be a great way to help end the stigma.
Here are some facts to get you started:
Did you know that one in five Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life?
Did you know that mental illness is the second leading cause of disability and premature death in Canada?
Did you know that every day 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a form of mental illness?
- Listen to those around you and ask questions to better understand
Mental health issues are a very common form of human pain and suffering. Being a good listener and asking how you can help, or sometimes just even being there for people you care about can be the first step in recovery. Simply saying, ‘I’ve noticed you’ve seemed down lately, is everything okay?’ can make the world of a difference to someone who feels alone in their suffering.
- Talk about it, and keep talking about it
Break the silence. Mental illness affects everyone, directly or indirectly. Stories of people who have experienced mental health issues and who are doing well can challenge these existing stereotypes.
Tweet, post and share on January 30 – let’s do our part to raise awareness, raise money and end the stigma.