Monday, October 12, 2015

Raising awareness about mental health

Clara Hughes poses for a photo after the Bell Let's Talk special announcement held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Tuesday, Sept, 22, 2015. MARTA IWANEK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Editorial: Raising awareness about mental health

Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 4 to 10) aims to help break the silence on mental-health issues, to bring them out of the shadows in which they so often dwell. It’s a hugely worthwhile goal.

Comedian and television show host Howie Mandel, who has obsessive-compulsive disorder, has said that if we could speak as openly about our mental health as we do about our dental health, we’d be in a good place.

We’re not there yet.

It helps when high-profile people associate themselves with mental health issues, like Mandel and like Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes, who has spoken publicly about her clinical depression. It helps, too, when ordinary Canadians speak out, as they do in the Faces of Mental Illness campaign, a key component of Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Through video profiles and in meetings with policymakers and at workplaces, five ordinary Canadians have chosen to share their experiences of living with mental illness and finding recovery. The campaign, in its 13th year, is organized by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health and days is underwritten mainly by Bell as part of a 10-year, $100 million commitment to its Bell Let’s Talk initiative.

When people tell their stories, it encourages dialogue with friends, the broader community and government. And it helps those who are struggling realize they’re not alone.

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