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Let's Talk: Ending The Stigma Part 1

6 days from now Social Media will blow up, people will be snapchatting, texting, calling, hashtagging, liking and commenting to end the stigma surrounding Mental Health in a day in late January our society has come to know as Bell Let’s Talk. Now I have nothing against Bell Let’s Talk I love the message, in fact, I believe ending the stigma surrounding mental health is incredibly important but just saying “end the stigma” might not do as much today as it did 5 years ago. I believe culture is to a point where in many ways they know the stigma must end but what are the stigmas that we are buying into? Even the most well-versed and well- known mental health advocates and professionals often accidentally stigmatize mental illness. So what can we as a culture and society tangibly do to stop stigmatizing mental-health and mental illness? . We are to a point where I personally believe mental health is no longer a forbidden and taboo issue, even in the last 3 years it has become more and more okay and even positive to discuss mental-health problems, so over the next few days leading up to Bell Let’s Talk I am going to share some things with you. I’m going to attempt to debunk some stigmas. I’m going to share facts and statistics that may not be easy to read and I believe most importantly I’m going to shamelessly share my heart with you and tell you the contagious and very real hope that is available to those even in their darkest. . For now, I simply want to answer a question that until a few months ago I could not answer.

Is there a difference between mental health and mental illness?

Yes, there is a large difference. Let me explain it this way, In your life, you at one point will struggle with your mental health, it's inevitable. We live in a culture that is so driven by the fast pace of life that it is nearly impossible not to encounter intense stress and perhaps even anxiety. According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary, Mental Health is “the general condition of one's mental and emotional state”. So we all have mental- health. It’s like our physical health it’s just a fact of life. Just like in their life everyone will be sick at least once, everyone will struggle with their mental health at least once if not many more times, now just because you struggle with your mental health it doesn’t mean that you have a mental illness.”Mental illness is defined as a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior.” . So mental health is the type of health that primarily hurt by mental illness and mental illness is often developed by multiple and recurring mental health struggles. Let me give you an example, of someone you love passes away you will naturally be sad, this is a mental health struggle you are feeling deep- emotions and they may be messing with your well-being. If that sadness doesn’t leave after a while and it really starts to affect you say you are sleeping a lot constantly, or even have lost a desire to live that is when mental illness is beginning to form. . Mental Illness is a genuine chemical imbalance in the brain, having clinical depression (a mental illness) may mean you are lacking chemicals like serotonin in your brain, or you are not naturally releasing enough positive endorphins. Whereas simply being sad for a month or two is just a struggle with your mental health, its natural human emotion doing its thing. . I will leave you my dear readers with this. No matter what you are facing, hope is real. No matter what you face in your homes, workplace, relationships or hallways,

hope is real. No matter what darkness is trying to overtake you, hope is real. No matter what you think feel or believe, You are Loved.

I will also tell you help is real. The following number can be used in the face of crisis situations with your mental health, feel free to reach out at any moment it may be a scary time but these people are so willing to help you.

Crisis Services Canada (Suicide Prevention): Toll-Free 24/7: 1.833.456.4566 Text Between 4pm-12am (ET): 45645

Kids Help Phone: Toll-Free 24/7:1-800-668-6868. Text 24/7: CONNECT to 686868