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#GetLoud - CMHA Mental Health Week 2017

Posted May 1, 2017 by Katrina Wilson M.A. RPC

CMHA Mental Health Week 2017 This year, the CMHA Mental Health Week falls on May 1-7, and their message is powerful. They want Canadians to #GetLoud about mental health – to talk about it, to ask about it, and to demand help with it.

Everyone struggles with mental health to some degree – it is a normal, human experience, and it's time for people to speak up and reflect on what it means to be mentally well, and what it means to struggle. Issues like anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, grief, fear, trauma, and stress are just a few of the difficult internal experiences that everyone goes through at some point in their lives. Just like everyone has had a cold, a fever, and indigestion, it's also true that everyone has had a low point – a point where they didn't want to get out of bed, or go to work, or talk to anyone. So why can we talk about our runny noses or upset tummies, but not our negative thoughts, anxieties, and fears?

There is too much shame linked to struggling with mental health – too much blame for something we can't really control. We talk about our physical woes openly and without hesitation, however if someone asks how we are doing, we answer with a vague "Fine", skirting the topic and hoping they won't ask more questions.

It is critical that we break the stigma, stereotypes, and shame around mental health, by recognizing that it is not a reflection of who we are as a person, it doesn’t mean that we’re weak, and it doesn’t mean that we are making excuses and skirting responsibilities. It means that we are human, and if we open up more about it, we're likely to find someone who can say "Man, that sucks. I’ve been there".

There is also a stigma around getting support for our mental health, and this, too, is viewed much differently than going to the doctor for physical ailments. When we have back pain, fever, a rash – those symptoms that indicate something else might be going on – most people don’t hesitate to make an appointment with their physician. But with negative thoughts, low mood, irritability, and isolation, few make the move to get support until it might be too late. Therapists and counsellors are there to acknowledge your struggle as real and as important, so that you don’t have to move through it alone.

So this week, take the CMHA up on it's challenge. Get Loud about mental health. Share your experiences, struggles, triumphs, and resources, and let’s push to end the stigma around something that we all go through. Please visit http://getloud.mentalhealthweek.ca for more information.