By Mari-Len De
Today marks the 6th year of the Bell Let’s Talk Day, a national campaign to raise awareness about mental illness and get people talking about this invisible disability that affects one in five Canadians.
Over the last few years Canada has made great strides in putting the issue to the forefront and helping eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. The national standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace, the first of its kind in Canada launched in 2013, has been an important tool for workplaces to establish a system to offer support for workers dealing with a mental illness. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has estimated that the economic burden of mental illness is $51 billion per year – clearly, Canadian businesses have a role to play and a stake in this issue of psychological health.
The Canadian Red Cross and the Bell Let’s Talk initiative have just announced a $150,000 first-aid program that will offer mental health training for Canadians, teaching first-responders and the general public on how to provide support for people suffering from a mental illness in emergency situations. This is an outstanding initiative because often, people dealing with a mentally-ill family member or friend would not know how to help in an effective manner. To an untrained person, helping a friend get over a depression may be to try and get them out of the house and go shopping or have a drink to “take their mind off whatever is bothering them.” Mental health experts, however, say that might not be a good idea and the best way to help a struggling friend or colleague is to just listen.
Mental health training to help people recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and offer meaningful support is a great step forward, especially in eliminating the stigma that still surrounds mental health.
Health-care providers also play a significant role as patients would often present with aches and pains that may be associated with an underlying mental disorder, such as depression. Although symptoms of mental illness are often invisible, recent studies have shown a link between chronic pain and mental illness. The important thing is being able to recognize and differentiate which pains and symptoms are a manifestation of a mental health problem.
Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign is a one-day push to raise awareness on mental health, but we need to make everyday a “let’s-talk-about-mental-illness” day. Every single day, someone somewhere will be diagnosed with a mental illness, will be unable to go to work due to depression, or worse, will have suicidal thoughts. That someone will need all the help they can get and as quickly as possible.
Here’s an article that ran in Canadian Chiropractor magazine titled, “Mindful practice.” It explores the role of health care providers in addressing mental health and how to recognize the signs and symptoms in a patient suffering from a mental illnes.