Mental Health Day

Mental Health Day
Claudette Pelletier-Hannah

Did you know the World Mental Health Day is October 10th? It’s really important to create awareness, so here I am, jumping on the bandwagon.

We are much more than physical bodies walking this earth. We are complicated beings and there is still so much we don’t know about how our brains and bodies work.

According to WebMD, mental health is defined as our ability to process information. Examples of mental illness include a variety of disorders including: mood, anxiety, personality, eating, psychotic, trauma-related and substance abuse.

Mental health is closely tied  to our emotional health, which is our ability to express feelings based on the information we have. If our cognitive processing is impacted by anxiety or depression, for example, we might struggle with accurately identifying a situation, consequently responding inappropriately. Of course our physical health gets involved too. We are indeed complex.

Unfortunately mental illness has a history of negative stigma, probably stemming from the days when it was completely misunderstood. Mental illness  was seen as the work of the devil, for example. Treatment was equally bizarre and sometimes dangerous.

We’ve come a long way with reliable medications, treatments and initiatives like the Bell Let’s Talk campaign. Many famous people like Olympian Clara Hughes are speaking out about their own experience with mental illness in order to normalize it. The military and first responders are more public about PTSD. Workplaces know the costs associated with mental illness and are paying more attention by providing programming and support.

Likely you, or someone you know, has, or is struggling with mental health. Depression and anxiety are everywhere. I hear it in the work I do. If you are struggling, please get help. If it’s someone you know, it’s always a good idea to ask, “Are you okay? What do you need?”

Being heard and taken seriously can make a difference to someone who feels vulnerable. You don’t have to have answers, but resources are always a good idea. You can start here.

I like to imagine a bigger focus and coverage of mental health care. Who knows? It just might improve our physical health and decrease some of the burden in people’s lives and in the current health care system.