Mental health, now that's a loaded topic. I have varying degrees of experience with this subject personally and professionally. With anxiety and depression to name a few in my immediate family and after many years of taking psychology and sociology courses I have come to realize one very important thing about one's mental health…..it's a real issue!
For so many that suffer from one or more mental health conditions as well as their friends and families, this is a subject that indeed needs to be talked about. The Canadian Mental Health Association has just completed their 65th annual "#GETLOUD" campaign that was celebrated May 2 – 8, 2016 and I am proud to be employed by a company that took the time to "light is up green" for a week of mental health awareness. Effort Trust lit up Head Office on Main Street East as well as their CIBC building in downtown Hamilton to show their support for this very worthy cause. Some of the employees also showed their support by wearing green clothing to work.
All too often we forget that illness is not always seen. It's easy to be courteous to someone using assisted devices for walking by opening doors and providing them alternate routes of access, but what is being done for the thousands of people that suffer everyday on the inside? Can you honestly just look at someone and know what is going on with them? Would you know that the woman you just passed, laughing and playing with her children at the park, spent the morning struggling to get out of bed and then crying in the shower before greeting those children for the day? Can you tell that the man you sit beside at work every day, joking and carrying on with, contemplated suicide last night? The reality is that all of these things and more are going on and they are all around you.
So the next time your co-worker says that they had a "rough night", ask them what happened. Offer an ear of sympathy and perhaps an avenue for someone for them to talk to further. If your teenager or their friends make comments that don't sound right to you, don't just brush them off as 'kids will be kids' because it could be something more. If someone is 'struggling' or 'upset' there is a reason for it. It is time we listen. It is also time we spoke up. Listen when asked and speak up for yourself when needed.
Get loud, there is a reason the campaign is so cleverly named this; "getting loud means speaking up to stop the discrimination and the stigma that often go hand in hand with mental illness. It means using your voice to raise awareness and build support. For someone at work. For someone at home. For yourself."¹