Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day.
The annual event encourages everyone to open up and share their struggles with mental illness, from everyday people to prominent celebrities.
When people Text, call, Tweet, Instagram, view a Facebook video or use a certain Snapchat geofilter, Bell contributed 5 cents more to mental health initiatives.
My personal feelings on Let’s Talk Day are mixed.
I have struggled with mental health issues for much of my young life.
I’ve been in counselling or therapy four times.
I take medication daily for anxiety. I went off it at one point in time and it did not go so well for me.
I deal with high-functioning anxiety. While outwardly calm, there are times inside I’m barely holding it together.
And that’s okay.
So, on one hand, I’m a huge fan of Let’s Talk Day. More money for mental health initiatives is never a bad thing.
Also, seeing all of these people come out of the woodwork to talk about how mental illness has touched them will only serve to normalize these issues for so long we have been afraid of talking about.
Of course Let’s Talk Day is important.
But that brings me to the reason I’m lukewarm on Let’s Talk Day.
Without minimizing the positive impacts this day has, it’s important to ensure the progress, discussion and support goes beyond one day.
There’s lots of evidence we don’t do nearly good enough a job the rest of the year.
Take the Victoria Hospital.
When the Elks and Royal Purple Elks moved from supporting the dialysis unit to supporting the mental health wing, the nurses on the mental health unit were overjoyed. No one had thought to help out that part of the hospital before.
Then there’s the hoops anyone with mental health issues has to jump through anywhere in this country to get help. Need someone to talk to any other day of the year? Good luck finding professional help.
Further, there’s the mental health crisis in the north. Northern leaders say they’re doing everything they can, but they don’t have the resources they need to make a lasting difference in their communities.
Political leaders express their dismay, or their condolences, but programs or long-term support rarely follow.
Lastly there’s our treatment of those struggling with addiction.
I’ve written about it before, but it’s worth saying again – addiction, including alcoholism, is a mental health issue.
Treating those with addiction as pariahs of our society won’t do anyone any good.
So celebrate Let’s Talk Day today. It’s a great initiative.
But don’t forget about all the work we need to do the rest of the year.