Hand up. I haven’t used this blog nearly as much as I thought I would when I started it last winter. Truthfully, I got a lot off my chest when I launched like 7 posts on the first day and I didn’t want this to just be me making the same points over and over.
Also, I left my job that had me feeling so down for so long back in June, and while the world didn’t turn in to the eternally-joyful eutopia I had maybe hoped, I’ve been able to deal with my anxiety and depression in different ways, losing the personal need to flesh out my thoughts on this platform.
But it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and I haven’t really explored my own thoughts in a while through this medium, so I figured it would be a good time to catch up.
First off, I want to say I think things are going really well overall. Individually, mental illness is still, yeah, the worst, but the community has grown exponentially over the last year in particular. While hearing more and more people are suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and so man more issues can be tough, I can’t sit here and think “wow, way more people are depressed now than ever” because that isn’t what’s happening. The stigma is fading and people are realizing this isn’t just an issue you can deal with on your own. This is good.
It’s still confusing, some people find it easier to wrap their minds around new information than others, and some people still just want to part of the “hot topic” without considering this isn’t some social media trend, but it certainly isn’t being ignored by society as a whole or by the individuals within it.
As I have recently discovered first hand, Canada’s government still hasn’t made the cross-country changes to incorporate mental health as well as they’ve should. Twice in the last few months, I have had to explain to a Service Canada worker over the phone that mental health issues don’t have an exact recovery time like a broken bone or torn ACL and it can be embarrassing – for me and for them. Then the policies themselves are not great either. As profiled in this piece for Global News by friend/mental health influencer Jess Patton, people regularly wait up to 6 months to see a professional for mental health issues and that’s just not good enough (check out the great new company “Inkblot Therapy” offering immediate face-to-face online counseling in her story). When I feel like I need to talk to someone, an hour alone feels like a lifetime – let alone six months.
The policies and sweeping changes are not coming as fast as we want, but they seem to be getting funded and getting attention and spreading the news. Marijuana will be legal soon and that’s a huge win. Depression is the leading reason Canadians are visiting physicians (that sounds bad, but its way better we visit than to ignore). Researchers are getting more funding every week. The conversations are up and the stigma is down. More services like “Inkblot Therapy” and “Big White Wall” are popping up. My experience openly struggling with mental health has actually been a positive on my resume.
You can do your part by just talking to friends, co-workers, family (young and old), or strangers about mental health. Make it a regular thing to discuss and to prioritize. Take time for yourself to make sure you’re in the right state of mind and encourage others to do the same.
Individually, we are going to have our struggles – I know mine don’t go away – but together, there are things to look forward to. We’re on the right track, guys. It’s getting better.