There remains a lot to learn when it comes to understanding mental illness, and removing the stigma associated with it.
Sure, we all talk the talk, and every once in a while we flood social media with trendy hashtags showing how much we care, but what about the rest of the time?
How often do you look the other way, when you see someone on the street who doesn’t exactly “fit the societal model” when it comes to behaviour, or appearance?
How often do we turn the other way, or “tsk, tsk” in disgust, when we see someone in need of help?
How often do we share inappropriate links, laugh when we should offer empathy, or rant when we should offer help?
In this, the era of information, there is more awareness than ever before regarding mental health issues.
From governments, to doctors, to individuals stepping out of their comfort zones to inform the public of their own struggles, we are learning more about the challenges surrounding mental health all the time.
There are initiatives taking place in Penticton to raise funds to be used for mental health resources as well as awareness. At London Drugs the Take Time for Tea campaign (which includes a stress-busting tea bag and a card with wellness and self-care tips from the Canadian Mental Health Association) can be purchased by donation. At Penticton Secondary School, they are hosting Yellow Shirt Day and the launch of the Yellow Friendship Bench. Students are encouraged to wear yellow and mental health information and resources will be available. The Friendship Bench is a permanent reminder for students to take a moment out of their day to talk or think about their mental health.
As understanding increases, the stigmas diminish. Knowledge is power. May 7-13 is Mental Health Week in Canada. For more information, visit mentalhealthweek.ca.