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Shedding light on mental health
We are all affected by mental illness in some form or another whether we ourselves have been diagnosed or whether we have supported a close family member or friend who has. This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week capped off by World Mental Health Day on Sunday, October 10th. It falls on one of the busiest and often most stressful times of year as laid-back summers become fully scheduled back-into-routine autumns. Kids return to school and extra-curricular activities and work ramp up for a new season. It is timely then, that we reflect on the impact of stress and mental illness in Canada and how we can be a part of the solution.
Despite this, many suffering with mental illness are hesitant to seek help as a result of possible stigma and discrimination. In fact, 49% of all those who report experiencing depression and anxiety never sought medical help at all according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Yet mental illness is just as important as one’s physical health. If we would seek medical treatment for a broken bone, we should seek treatment for mental health as well.
The pandemic has exasperated this trend as lockdowns and limited access to regular resources has caused 38% of Canadians to report increased feelings of loneliness and isolation. Those experiencing such feelings were four times more likely to report major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder according to Stats Canada. A silver lining, the pandemic has highlighted the necessity of prioritizing mental health in the same ways as we do our physical health as the majority of us have struggled with increased stress, anxiety, or depressive symptoms as a result.