So, I should probably acknowledge that I haven’t blogged in months. I don’t really have any good excuses except…major writer’s block, and the fact that I’m working more hours now, and my time management skills are clearly not up to par. Anywaaaay,
Today is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day – something that has really come into the spotlight over the last few years (Even Ellen is involved!) When you go to their landing page, you’ll be greeted with this headline:
“There are many ways you can show your support and help create a stigma-free Canada”
As someone who grew up with severe mental illnesses, I honestly thought I was completely alone. I thought I was the only person who experienced the world like I did. I didn’t even know what anxiety was until I was eventually diagnosed with it!
I was ashamed to talk about what was happening in my head. I constantly made excuses about why I couldn’t attend this or that because I didn’t feel comfortable admitting why I really couldn’t go to that party or why I stayed home from school for the third day in a row.
Now, I feel comfortable to be open and honest about most of my mental illnesses and what that not only looks like in my life, but how that affects those around me. 20 years ago, I didn’t even know what was wrong with me. All I knew was that something was extremely wrong.
If I was 7 years old today, I think I would have been diagnosed much earlier. I think my parents would have been better equipped to manage my illness. I think doctors wouldn’t have been so dismissive.
I’m glad we are working towards a “stigma-free Canada”
As much as I think these initiatives are good and helpful, and really do get people talking…talk is just not enough. It is not enough for the millions of us in Canada who continue to suffer.
You want to talk? Let’s talk.
Let’s talk about the fact that even though we have “free” health care in Canada, that doesn’t include accessible and basic mental health care, unless you are lucky enough to have an amazing benefits package. Spoiler alert – most of us millennials don’t.
Let’s talk about the fact that anxiety and depression are ‘trendy’ when it comes to initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk, but psychosis, schizophrenia, and other ‘less trendy’ mental illnesses that often lead to things like homelessness (stuff no one wants to talk about during campaigns like this) are still HIGHLY stigmatized not only in Canada, but the rest of the world.
Let’s Talk about the fact that there are still churches all across North America that don’t acknowledge mental health issues for what they are – they blame the individual, they say ‘you just aren’t praying enough,’ and they rack on the guilt on top of everything else.
I also can’t help but feel like a bit like a huge corporation is simply profiting off mental illness – as one article put it, “the corporatization of mental health” – it’s hard not to see this as just another way to gain publicity and, of course, money.
Maybe I am a bit cynical about this whole thing. I have, over the years, participated in Bell Let’s Talk, using the hashtag and everything! But I guess I’m just getting tired of all this talk.
After nearly 27 years of severe mental illness, I am tired of talk. I want change.
I want to be able to see my psychologist, and not worry about how I’m going to pay the almost $200 fee per session.
I want to be able to discuss some of the more polarizing issues that those with mental health issues face without worrying about judgement. I want churches to talk about mental illness openly in a Sunday morning sermon – and talk about it in a way that STOPS putting any of the blame on the sufferer.
I want people to ask how my mental health is doing on days other than “Let’s Talk” day. Because if that’s the only day you pay attention to mental illness, this entire ‘conversation’ is clearly not working at all.