By Ryan Hunter
For many people the winter months typically bring cold weather and longer days. Often during this time, we find it easier to stay indoors, feel less motivated to get out and consequently our moods tend to be lower. But who can blame us when the sun goes down at 5pm every day!
That feeling of low motivation, low will power and low mood is often synonymous with having a bad day. Unfortunately, for most of us, we don’t realize other people are having these “bad days” every day. Mental health disorders such as depression are readily undiagnosed/unrecognized by peers. Depression isn’t like a broken leg, you can’t just point it out. In many cases, people will often cover up these symptoms with smiles and laughs, which makes it increasingly difficult to tell what they are really going through.
Still today, there is a certain stigma that is attached to mental health disorders which makes it challenging for people to open up and talk about them. There is a bright spot however, we are starting to see a shift in how people approach and discuss mental health. Through new education/awareness programs, people are starting to become more informed. Initiatives such as Bell Let’s Talk have used the power of social media to help raise awareness and educate people on mental health.
The reason why I’ve been trying to get involved in raising awareness for mental health is about 6 years ago my younger brother was diagnosed with depression. At the beginning, I had no understanding of what he was going through and what he was feeling. Like many, I thought it was just a phase and he was going to be able to “get over it.” What I didn’t understand was, you can’t just “get over” depression. At the time I had no idea what to say or how I could help him. What I realized though was I had no education on mental health issues.
This began my journey into better understanding mental health. By researching and talking to individuals it not only gave me a better understanding of what my brother was going through, it allowed me to talk to others about it. With platforms such as Bell Let’s Talk Day, it gave me a chance to talk about mental health and how we can educate ourselves on the issue.
While, I may never be able to fully grasp what my brother goes through or what someone with a mental illness experiences, I know how to help. These are just a couple tips every person can do to help educate themselves and others on mental health:
- Change your language towards mental health
- Educate yourself on the issue
- Treat others with respect
- Help change and challenge the stigma around mental health
As a society we are moving in the right direction on this issue, but we still have much to accomplish in regard to mental health. Raising awareness and educating yourself is just one way to help. At the end of the day you never know what someone might be going through, so be supportive and caring to the people around you.