The AECEA believes that mental health awareness is paramount to a healthy, productive society. In 2012, one in three Canadians said that they had been affected by mental illness¹, so why don't people talk about it more? Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, yet people struggle to reach out and get the help they need to feel better. Most mental illnesses can be managed with medication and therapy, allowing people who struggle with mental illness to lead a happy, normal life. If you do not feel right, reach out; talk to someone. The simple act of relaying your concerns, fears, and struggles can remove a burden from your shoulders.
What is a mental illness²?
Mental illnesses are health problems that affect the way we think about ourselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around us. They affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Some examples of mental illnesses include:
- Anxiety disorders;
- Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder;
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa;
- Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia;
- Personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder;
- Childhood disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (or ADHD);
- Dementia, such as alzheimers.
What can you do if someone close to you is struggling with mental illness?
Offer support. One of the things that people with mental illness struggle with is thinking that they are alone, that there is no one there to help them. Often, people with mental illness problems struggle to reach out because of the feeling of isolation. Be the one to reach out and offer support, they need it.
Who does mental illness affect?
Everyone. There is no template for who a person struggling with mental illness is. It could be your neighbour, your child, your parent, your coworker, your friend, anyone. Do not assume that because a person appears to have a good life that they do not struggle with mental illness.
Where can I go to get more information?
Alberta, and Canada, have many organizations and government bodies devoted to mental health awareness and support. There are workshops available for people to take that cover topics such as:
- Mental illness in children;
- Mental health in the workplace;
- Dealing with trauma;
- Grief counselling;
- Suicide prevention.
Where can I find these workshops?
The AECEA has posted events related to mental health awareness and support on our events page. If you do not find a workshop there that you are interested in, check out these websites:
- Centre for Suicide Prevention
- Early Childhood Development Support Services
- Community Education Services
- Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute
- Alberta Addiction Service Providers
- EMental Health
- University of Alberta
If you are struggling with mental illness, you are not alone. Call the Mental Health Help Line in Alberta at 1-877-303-2642.