To the editor;
Bell Let’s Talk Day 2014 happens on Jan. 28. The goal is to start a Canada-wide conversation about Mental health. Very, very important conversation to have.
As a mother, grandmother, author (Gracie’s Secret, Jagged Little Edges and Jagged Little Lies), family counselor at a drug and alcohol treatment centre on Vancouver Island, and recovering addict I want to add a piece to the mental health conversation – addiction.
Did you know that one in five Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem. Mental illness can be described as an impairment of one’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors. This ‘impairment’ comes in varying degrees, from mild to severe.
The more severe the diagnosis, the more impacted one’s life will be, ranging from functioning, to disabled.
Addiction can be described as any mood altering substance, or experience, that has life damaging consequences. It progresses from functioning, to terminal – jails, institutions or sadly, death.
Many of us have experienced some form of mental illness over our lifetime. We all know what it feels likes to be depressed, or anxious. There are many of us too, that have ‘tied one on,’ or had ‘one too many.’
Mental health and addiction can often go ‘hand in hand.’ Some addicts and alcoholics use to ‘feel better’ or to self-medicate.
Both of these illnesses are very treatable, and yet many will not come forward due to the shame and stigma attached.
There are some who still believe addiction and mental health issues are moral character flaws, or signs of a weak-willed individual. Mental illness and addiction are not easy topics to discuss. They’re downright uncomfortable. However, avoiding difficult conversations, only adds to the problem. Silence kills.
It’s time we move beyond the stigma of mental health and addiction, and learned to celebrate the joy and hope of recovery.
If you or a loved one are concerned about mental health or addiction, call your local mental health and addiction referral services.
Here in BC, you can start with this number 1-800-665-1822 (The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre). Help really is just a phone call away.
author and family counselor