Tuesday, February 7, 2012

LET YOUR FINGERS DO THE WALKING FOR A GREAT CAUSE

I have not been shy about discussing mental health issues.

On February 8th, for every text message sent and every long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers, Bell will donate 5 cents to mental health programs.

That is huge.

Bell is not only acting to financially assist mental health programs they are actively promoting a program that is bound to create more discussion and awareness of the mental health issues that challenge million of Canadians.

Last year over Bell handed over $1 million to organizations to carry out mental health programs.

Last fall,The Harris Centre sponsored a panel discussion on how the media deals with mental illness. Despite the many advances in education and treatment, mental health continues to have a very negative stigma.

The misconceptions surrounding depression are endless, it seems, but the most prevalent one seems to be the belief that people who are depressed really don't have a medical illness that requires treatment, but simply a "flaw in their character" that, with enough will and determination, they can correct. This is absolutely ludicrous of course. This type of thinking is akin to telling a diabetic that because their bodies cannot properly deal with the abnormal amounts of sugar in their blood, they are weak, lazy, irresponsible whiners, who, if they truly wanted to, could take control of their disorder by "willing it away".

For many it is still seen as a sign of weakness. Unlike a physical ailment that people can see, it is not as tangible. How often have you heard a local media report with the tag "that a person involved in a violent incident "had a history of mental illness," which implies that somehow they were to blame?"

How to we tag people or question an illness that many do not understand? If we have not walked in their footsteps how could we ever truly know how debilitating anxiety and depression can be? True feelings of depression are overpowering and can often incapacitate the sufferer and make even simple tasks seem overwhelming. Yes, everyone "feels" depressed sometimes. But what most people fail to realize is that for those who are truly afflicted with clinical depression, those moments of sadness and anxiety are always present. Even times of joy (especially times of joy) are overshadowed and tainted by a veil of sorrow.

The social stigma of depression continues to prevent those battling silently with this affliction from seeking medical treatment. The stigma that continues to surround depression in this, the 21st century, is an attitude that boggles my mind and gets me a little heated under the collar.

Tomorrow is Lets Talk Day. Message away, call old friends, but participate.

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