Let’s Talk: Stop The Stigma

I think Bell Let’s Talk Day should be more often than once a year. If not Bell Let’s Talk, similar initiatives.

Mental illness affects people year round. It doesn’t affect a specific type of person. It can affect anyone. Anyone can suffer from it.

The stigma around it makes people feel they need to suffer in silence. The stigma causes fear and embarrassment for getting help. Fear no one will believe them. Fear no one will care. Embarrassed to be looked at as weak. Looked at differently. Incomplete.

It can be a big pride pill to swallow to even admit suffering from a mental illness. It can take years. It took me years. The stigma of mental illness as a weakness is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Even with lots of support it’s difficult. But it’s not impossible.

If you know someone or even suspect someone you know is suffering from a mental illness, let them know you are there for support. They probably won’t want to talk right away, but knowing that someone is there for when they’re ready to talk is huge. The support you can provide someone suffering from mental illness helps more than you know. Even if it’s just a listening ear.

Don’t make them talk about it, though. Forcing them to talk about it could just push them further away from getting help. Just. Be. There. For. Them.

For those suffering from mental illness, it can be very hard to seek help. Climbing Mount Everest with one arm and no legs hard. If someone has confided in you about their mental illness, that is already a HUGE step for them. It can take years before they seek help, let alone confide in someone about it. It took me years. It shouldn’t have.

It’s not always because one doesn’t know where to find help. But because the stigma also includes “getting help” = “I am weak” and an ego develops around it. “I should be able to deal with this myself.”

Sometimes, you just can’t.

Getting help doesn’t mean that you’re admitting defeat to the mental illness. It just means you need reinforcements to help bring it down. Strength in numbers, like an army, or whatever that cliche is.

And if you’re lucky enough to have friends who will listen and be there for you no matter what, hold onto them.

I know it’s difficult because you’ll want to push them away because you feel like your mental illness is a burden on them and/or that they see you differently, but fight with all your might not to. Please.

Sometimes, they can make all the difference. They did for me.

All of this is WAY easier said than done, I know. But it’s not impossible, even though it feels that way a lot of the time.

It won’t ever go away completely. But it can get better. It has to get worse before it gets better. But it can get better. Please don’t be afraid. There are people who won’t judge or fear you for your mental illness. There are resources available to help.

The whole judging people with mental illnesses as weak and different is ridiculous. They are sick not weak. It is mental ILLNESS. People aren’t afraid to get help when they have bodily health issues and they shouldn’t be afraid to get help when they have mental health issues.

Stop the stigma.

Contact information and other helpful links for Mental Health:

Bell Let’s Talk
National Institute of Mental Health
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

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