Published on January 25th, 2016 | from CAMH
Discussing Mental Health Remains as Important as Ever
By Dr. Katy Kamkar, Clinical Psychologist, Work, Stress and Health Program, CAMH
No one is immune to mental health problems. People at all levels of social, occupational or economic status can experience a mental illness. Is this surprising? It shouldn’t be. After all, approximately 20 per cent of Canadians will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
Thanks to awareness campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk, these stats aren’t so surprising anymore. That said, continuing the conversation remains as important as ever. The stigma attached to mental illness often delays or prevents a person from seeking the help they need. As a result, people often struggle in silence, which only compounds their pain and suffering.
As you talk mental health with your family, friends or colleagues this Bell Let’s Talk Day, consider the impact mental illness can have on our lives, the ways we can help those struggling, and the resources that exist to provide professional support.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Mental illness affects our work. It is associated, for instance, with decreased productivity, mood irritability leading to increased interpersonal conflict, increased absenteeism, and short-term and long-term disability. Thus, creating a safe and healthy workplace environment is essential. Providing resources to a colleague who might suffer from a mental health problem or guiding him or her to the right direction can be very helpful. Encouraging people to seek professional care and providing support, understanding and acceptance are essential.
Education and increasing knowledge of mental health issues help us, in turn, talk more easily about any mental health issues.
Mental Health and Youth
A staggering statistic is that 70 per cent of mental health problems have their onset during childhood and adolescence. Young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group. After accidents, suicide is the leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 19.
So when is the right time to familiarize ourselves with symptoms of mental health problems or talk about them? As early as possible! If you notice any changes in your child’s mood or behaviours or functioning then talk about it with your child and seek professional help if needed.
Lending a Helping Hand, or an Understanding Ear
If you know someone who might be struggling with a mental health problem, you can approach the person nicely and ask how they are doing and listen to them. Listening can be so helpful.
It’s important to show empathy, by putting yourself in their shoes, showing them you care and appreciate they must be going through a difficult time. Depending on what the person discloses, you can ask them if you could help them in any way.
If they are open to assistance, often helping a friend or a loved one with setting up an appointment with the doctor, checking relevant information on the website and accompanying them to the doctor can set them on the recovery pathway. After all, we already tend to do all the above for someone who suffers from a physical health problem. Doing so for someone who suffers from a mental health problem shouldn’t be any different. So please, provide help by listening, understanding and showing acceptance.
Treating Mental Illness
It’s important to know that mental illness can be treated. Evidence-based psychological treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy has been found effective for numerous mental health problems and people are able to enjoy again their life, experience improved functioning and subsequently resume their personal, academic and/or professional goals. Other treatment options also exist, including medication and brain stimulation, among others. It is, therefore, important to seek professional care just as you would if you have cancer, heart disease or diabetes, to ensure that the right treatment and recovery plan is in place.
Outside of professional assistance, engaging in self-care is one way we can all actively take care of our mental health. Check out these CAMH blogs for some helpful tips:
Looking for more? In need of assistance?
For more information on mental illness or accessing professional assistance, consider the resources below:
- Access CAMH: (416) 535-8501, option 2
- Kids Help Phone
- Portico Network, Canada’s Mental Health and Addictions Network
- The Panic Center
- The Depression Center
- The NIMH Anxiety Disorders Education Program
- The Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT)
- The Canadian Psychological Association
- The Canadian Mental Health Association
- The National Network for Mental Health
- The Mood Disorders Society of Canada
- The Canadian Health Network
- Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA)
- Great West Life Centre for Mental Health