CANADA: Mental Illness – Let’s Talk

CANADA: Mental Illness – Let’s Talk

bell_lavieWhen I was a teenager, I suffered from teen depression. When I tried to talk to someone about it, I was told to “pull myself together”. I didn’t mention it again, because I didn’t think it was OK to talk about it.

When I was in my early 20’s, my life fell apart. I managed to pick up the pieces, but I also picked up anxiety, PTSD and an eating disorder to go along with the depression. I didn’t talk about it, because I felt that my own bad decisions had led to the state I was in. In other words, it was my own fault, therefore I didn’t deserve to be helped.

After the birth of my second child, I found myself drowning in postpartum depression. I didn’t talk about that either, because I was so ashamed. How could I possibly be feeling so bleak – suicidal, even – when I had two beautiful children? What kind of horrible person was I, that I would even think about leaving my sons without a mother?

For pretty much all of my teen and adult life, I have dealt with mental health problems that I haven’t wanted to talk about. I struggled alone with the fallout from the crisis in my early adulthood for a full twenty years – twenty years – before I sought professional help.

Sadly, I am not alone.

The Toronto-based Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH) reports that in any given year, one in five Canadians suffers from a mental health problem.

We lose about eleven Canadians a day to suicide, with women being three to four times more likely to attempt it than men. The human, social and economic costs of mental illness are immense.

And yet people don’t want to talk about it – especially moms, who are so adept at tucking away their problems so they can take care of the people around them. People who suffer from mental illness tend to have this weird idea that it’s their fault, and that it’s a stigma that shouldn’t be spoken about. They fear that if their mental illness is known, it will hurt them socially and career-wise.

It is an unfortunate reality that stigmas surrounding mental illness do exist. According to CAMH, 55% of Canadians would hesitate to enter into a relationship with someone who has mental illness, and almost half of the population believes that mental illness is an “excuse”. All of this perpetuates the notion that mental illness is something to be ashamed of. And that in turn results in tragic loss of life and all kinds of trauma for those left behind.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

As moms, we are great influencers of the generation we are raising. I believe it is within our power to greatly reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. If we instil in our kids the idea that it’s OK to talk about mental health issues, they will grow up to be more accepting of those who have problems, and they will have the freedom to talk about their own experiences.

If people talk more about their mental illnesses, and if they feel that it’s all right for them to seek help, how many lives could be saved? How many tragedies could be averted? How many children would be saved the sadness of losing a parent, a friend or a sibling?

Today is a special day in Canada, as one of the biggest companies sponsors a mental health awareness campaign. Today is Bell Let’s Talk day. For every tweet sent using the #BellLetsTalk hashtag, and for every Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk image, Bell Canada will donate another five cents to mental health initiatives.

Let’s do our part, to raise awareness and let people know that there is support for them. Let’s send a positive message to our children and create a newer, brighter future for those with mental illness issues.

Let’s talk.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle of Toronto for World Moms Blog. Kirsten can be found at her blog, Running for Autism, or on Twitter @running4autism.

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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SOCIAL GOOD: Keeping One More Woman Alive Every 2 Minutes

SOCIAL GOOD: Keeping One More Woman Alive Every 2 Minutes

On World Moms Blog we try to make every day International Women’s Day!  But, today is really THE day!  If you’ve been reading us, you know that we champion life-saving vaccinations for children in developing nations through the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign and the GAVI Alliance.

However, on this day for women, we want to tell you about how the GAVI Alliance is also working to save the lives of many women in the developing world.

Every two minutes, statistically, a woman dies of cervical cancer.  And now GAVI financing and programs have paved the way to offer life-saving HPV vaccinations to help prevent these deaths in places where it’s not so easy or affordable or possible to keep up with regular pap smears.

At World Moms Blog we value our children, and we know that every child deserves a mom.

To read more about GAVI’s program and see how they are making a difference, please visit the GAVI site.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog. Jennifer Burden is the founder and an editor of World Moms Blog. She can be reached at worldmomsblog@gmail.com or on Twitter @WorldMomsBlog and @JenniferBurden.

Photo credit to Koshyk. This photo has a creative commons attribution license. 

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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Saturday Sidebar: Any Volunteers?

This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question comes from World Moms Blog writer Kyla P’an.  She asked our writers,

“How do you expose your kids to, or educate them about, serving others and volunteerism?”

Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…

Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA writes:
“I think the best way is to lead by example and bring the kids along so they can understand better. They can join in and you will have great opportunities for conversations about helping others with them.

For example, I recently threw a party for the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign at my house. We raised awareness for vaccinations to save the lives of children in developing nations, and we also collected school supplies for a local charity, too.

I let my daughter stay up a little later that night, and she helped collect the school supplies at the door. I took her with me later that week to drop off the items, so she could see where they were going. She had a lot of questions!” (more…)

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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