I spent 10 years of my career working with some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life – Registered Psychiatric Nurses. Their dedication to providing care for people effected by mental illness is unbelievable. For a lot of them their work does not stop at simply caring for clients but it also extends into being champions for their cause. The biggest hurdles that need to be overcome are ensuring that the resources for proper mental health care are in place and accessible and working to get rid of the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
There are two very important awareness campaigns that occur each October and I am going to take a moment to fill you in on both of them.
Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) was established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association and is now coordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH). MIAW is a national annual campaign to bring awareness of mental health issues to Canadians. One of the highlights of the campaign is the “Faces of Mental Health”program which features real stories from Canadians who are living in recovery of mental illness. It really is a powerful campaign! These are real people with real stories and they are inspiring. If you have a moment I really encourage you to visit the Faces of Mental Health page and get inspired!
“Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment.”
World Mental Health Day is a global mental health education campaign run by the World Federation for Mental Health. This year marks the 20th anniversary of World Mental Health Day. Every year they have a new theme to try and bring awareness to different challenges that are faced in the world of mental health. This year’s theme Depression: A Global Crisis speaks for itself.
“Unipolar depressive disorders were ranked as the third
leading cause of the global burden of disease in 2004 and will move into the first place by 2030.”
Those numbers are staggering. Just stop and think for a moment about all of the diseases effecting our population today. I bet you can compile quite a list. Would you have put depression on that list before reading this? I don’t think I’m out of line to say that most of us wouldn’t have put it on the list at all and if we did would it have gone at the top of that list? Did you know that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide?
And here’s something else you should know about depression. It is 50% more likely to occur in women. And of course children are not exempt from depression or other mental illnesses. In fact there are many kids that are living with mental health issues.
What can you do? First and foremost – Talk About It!! Maybe you have experienced mental illness yourself, maybe someone close to you has, maybe you are one of the very few that has not been touched by mental illness (1 in 3 of us has). It doesn’t matter which side you are coming from. The more we talk about it the closer we get to removing the stigma. And, if you are a parent it is so important that you talk to your kids about mental health. They need to know that they can come to you if they need help and that they know how to reach out if they suspect someone else needs help. Let’s work towards raising a generation of people that see mental illness for what it is – an illness – not something to be ashamed or afraid of!