Break the Stigma… Cause Some Stigmas are Meant to be Broken (Part 1)
Life Start Training and First Aid is not only passionate about breaking the stigmas attached to first aid training through awareness, education and top-notched training but also breaking the mental health stigma.
After our collective experiences of last year, we are hearing more people actually talking about their mental health a little more freely. Have you noticed though most people still tread lightly when it comes to discussing mental health illness? Why are we so ashamed to speak about our mental health?
Mental health is a hot topic around the world. We all have so many things on our daily to-do list and we are trying to do too much and be everything to everyone, but we are not making time for proper self-care. There are so many things that impact our mental health such as unattainable and unrealistic standards we are bombarded with on social media, overworking, sleep issues, lack of exercise, negative life experiences, lack of attainable support and biological issues.
At Life Start, we talk about physical symptoms of heart attack, stroke, head trauma etc. all the time and since this month is Mental Health Awareness Month, we thought it was the perfect time to also talk about the signs and symptoms of mental illness.
Feelings of sadness or feeling upset
Unable to meet daily commitments
Not returning phone calls, emails or text messages
Irritability and or changes in behaviour
Changes in appetite and eating habits
Loss of interest in hobbies
Inability to concentrate or cope with daily life
Self-harm or suicidal thoughts
Alcohol or drug dependency
According to Statistics Canada, in 2018 roughly 5.3 million Canadians said they needed some help for mental illness the previous year. The most frequently reported reasons for having unmet or partially met needs were related to not knowing where to go, being too busy or not being able to afford to pay. Almost 1 in 5 Canadians or 17.5% needed mental health care in 2018.
Even with all the attention given to stopping the stigma, we are still not talking openly about our mental health issues. What can we do to help end the stigma attached to mental health illness?
We need to educate ourselves. Understanding that mental illnesses are no different than other illnesses is an important first step. There is no stigma related to heart-related illnesses, for example, so why is there a stigma attached to mental illnesses? At some point in time, there was an idea that mental illness was a weakness, something to keep as your deepest darkest secret. People still feel ashamed to ask for help.
How can you help someone if you feel there may be mental illness?
· Listen without judgement
· Validate their feelings
· Let them know you hear them
· Don’t give up on them, even if they don’t respond to your calls or messages and don’t take it personally
· Don’t minimize their feeling
· Don’t tell them to snap out of it
· Don’t tell them to just choose to be happy
· Encourage them to talk to a professional
· Advocate for their mental health
At Life Start Training and First Aid, we take mental health issues very seriously. We are passionate about educating our students on mental health first aid in an effort to help break down that wall and to get people talking and accepting that mental illness is just like every other illness. In 2017, the CAS added a mental health component to their guidelines, and we couldn’t be happier.
“Whether an illness effects your heart, your leg, your brain, it’s still an illness and there should be no distinction.” - Michelle Obama
If you suspect that someone is suicidal, that they could be a danger to themselves or someone else, seek medical attention immediately.
Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7) or text 45645 (4 pm to 12 am ET).
Kids Help Phone Call 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868.
Hope for Wellness Help Line Call 1-855-242-3310 (toll-free)