You are not alone

Image: You are not alone

Did you know that one in five Canadians will live with mental illness at some point in their lifetime?

That’s a startling number. Last Wednesday (January 25) was Bell Let’s Talk Day, a campaign that highlighted mental health and the stigma associated with mental illness. We asked our Spectrum Health Care employees to share encouraging words that they would say to individuals dealing with a mental illness. Here is what they had to say:

We don’t want to stop there. We want the conversations about mental health to keep going. We want to foster an environment where mental illness can be discussed openly and safely. Here are 5 ways to help encourage an open environment:

Educate Yourself

Knowing the facts and myths surrounding mental illness can go a long way in helping end the stigma. Read some interesting facts about mental illness from Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH) here.

Language Matters

Words can make all the difference. Be careful with what words you are using as they can hurt.

Words to watch out for:

  • instead of "schizo" use "person with schizophrenia"
  • instead of "crazy" use "person with a mental illness"

Listen and Ask

Sometimes just letting someone know that you care can help a lot.

Here are a few examples of what to say:

  • I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well.
  • I’ve noticed you’ve seemed down lately.
  • Is everything ok?
  • How can I help?

Be Kind

Simple kindness can make a world of difference in someone’s life. A smile, a word of encouragement or an invite out for coffee or lunch. These are all little actions that can brighten up someone’s day. Through our actions and our words, we can help eradicate the stigma and continue to foster healthy conversations about mental health.