Mental Health Is Everyone's Issue

It is almost certain that mental illness will impact your life at some point. Whether it’s your own affliction, or that of a family member, friend or partner, mental illness can be widely destructive to lives, both at home and at work.

The Canadian Mental Health Association states that mental illness is estimated to affect at least one in five Canadians aged 18 to 25, yet a mere 20% ever receive treatment. If left unattended, the mental health issues often facing young adults have great potential to snowball—with tragic consequences. In 2008, Nadia Kajouji was a student at Carlton University facing some very common and relatable experiences: she had recently started university and moved to a new city far from her family. As her stress about school and her loneliness mounted, Nadia sunk into depression. Eventually she was goaded into committing suicide by an online predator. This devastating outcome is an extreme example of the precarious dangers of mental illness.

Many people are wholly unable or unwilling to identify problems they may have: anxiety, mood disorders and depression are all conditions that can have serious detriment if left untreated, yet are often very difficult to pin down. Many, particularly university students and recent graduates, dismiss any troubling symptoms as simply signs of stress, worries about the impending future, or something that will just “go away” when the issues of the day are resolved. For some, this is indeed the case: there is a line between “having the blues” and having true clinical depression, for example. The important thing to understand, however, is that self-diagnosis is a very dangerous game to play, and that any concerns should immediately be addressed to a properly trained mental health professional or your doctor.

Aside from an unwillingness or inability to recognize a mental health issue, the greatest obstacle to seeking treatment is often embarrassment or fear. It is natural, of course, to be hesitant when it comes to discussing deeply personal matters: we all face social pressures about not wanting to lose face or appear weak. Opening up about certain aspects of your life can be exceptionally difficult: admitting that you may be gay or lesbian, that you have trouble being intimate in relationships, that you were affected by abuse as a child. Perhaps it’s simply that you’ve moved to a new city for work or school, and you’re having trouble establishing new friendships and connections. The mental toll that comes with facing these sorts of challenges is often enough to merit some discussion with a doctor, yet at the same time, their perceived taboo nature can make them much more challenging to express.

Some people worry that their problems aren’t serious enough to merit a doctor or other professional’s time, or that they will be seen as seeking attention without having a “serious enough” burden to discuss. Yet, as any competent doctor would quickly explain, no matter is too small to bring up if you are concerned. The notion that you aren’t worthy of their attention is flatly wrong: your health is paramount, and it is their job to make sure your health needs are met. While your concerns, once expressed, may indeed be less serious than you initially feared, by not raising them at all out of fear or embarrassment, you risk letting a potentially catastrophic problem grow out of control. Your mental and physical health isn’t worth the risk. Bring it up if it’s bothering you—you won’t regret it.

Overcoming hesitations is the first step to a healthier online casino nederlandsegokken life and can be a great relief: just talking about your problems or issues with someone can sometimes lift a great weight off your shoulders, and help to clarify some of the emotions that accompany mental stresses. Beyond that, speaking to a professional or your doctor gives you access to more appropriate treatments if they are necessary—the great thing about a doctor’s office is that it is, essentially, a safe space where you can talk about your problems without the worry of social backlash or embarrassment, while gaining access the resources you need. Professionals can point you in the right direction and provide contacts to get you started back on the road to health.

The stigma of mental health still runs deep in our society. Improvements are being made, slowly, and professional organizations are coming up with more creative access for young adults who may be otherwise missed by the system. For example, this year, the Government of Ontario is introducing a new mental health and addictions strategy targeting children and young adults. In the end, talking about disorders of all types, from elusive depression and eating disorders, to much more visible disorders like schizophrenia, is the only way we can lift the veil on mental illness. If more people engage in educated and relevant debate and discussion about these problems and how to help those afflicted, more people will be willing to come forward. Helping to address the fears of today can help save lives tomorrow. Whether it’s you or someone you are concerned about, just talking can make a world of difference.

Mental Health Resources and Information:
Canadian Mental Health Association
CMHA: Resources for Starting and Succeeding in Post-secondary education
CMHA, Statistics and Figures (Including youth category)
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Toronto)
Government of Ontario, Spring 2011 Economic and Health Goals for Families

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