I previously posted a piece for Bell Lets talk day that talked about my experience with therapy. You can read it here. In it, I started to touch on why people need friends and about the different roles that friends can take.
My goal with these kinds of posts is to create discussion, even if that discussion is about how we can do better. On the other hand, I saw a few different posts about Bell Lets Talk day that brought up the not so great things about the initiative. These include the fact that people are only advocates once a year, and the question of what is being done with the money that is raised. People were sharing their stories about long wait lines and other problems with our mental health system, and even though they initally appeared to be against Bell Lets Talk, since it is not fixing these problems, they realized that it was still giving them a valuable platform to speak out about the issues.
Public discussion and talking to others around you is great, but not everything can be fixed with a conversation. I very much agree with the posts that are suggesting that Bell Lets talk has focused in on depression, and in some ways depression only in the middle class. As I mentioned previously, I am incredibly lucky to have therapy covered under insurance, and any professional athlete likely has the same. However, a lot of people are not as lucky. I am in no way saying these athletes stories aren’t important, they very much are. They show us and remind that mental illness can affect anyone. But, the stories of the less fortunate people are important as well.
This year I am not only going to try to be kinder and more patient with those around with me, I am going to try to expand on the work I have started within my community. Last year the field hockey team I’m a part of raised money for The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. You can read about all the work they do here. We will be continuing to raise money for this organization in the future.
I think it is important in addition to supporting Bell Lets Talk, people support local initiatives as well. Some local organizations in Ottawa that you can support include, this organization helping those affected by eating disorders and this new start up helping people heal through yoga. It is as easy as texting, tweeting, and googling to find an organization doing great work in your comunity.
I hope this post does not come across as negative, and I want to say that creating discussion and ending the stigma is an awesome step in the right direction. But we can not allow oursleves to be lulled into believing all problems will be fixed when the stigma is erased. We can make the world a better place by simply being kind, as you never know what someone is going through.