If someone’s hurt in accident, people rush to help. If it’s a mental illness, it’s different

Feb. 7, 2014

If someone gets hurt in an accident or must go to the hospital in P.E.I., there is a huge outpouring of support, often involving casseroles.
When they suffer from a mental illness however, there is no support, says the executive director of Canadian Mental Health Association in P.E.I., Reid Burke.
And that’s a problem.
Burke spoke Feb. 3 at Holland College as part of a campaign in mental health awareness. The CMHA hopes events like these will help raise awareness and reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental illness, Burke said.
“Those are not two groups, the mentally ill and the rest, it’s just us.”

Health Minister Doug Currie said, “We should be freely able to talk to someone to get the help we need.”
Amanda Brazil, Director of programs and policy at CMHA P.E.I., said one in five people will need professional help with their mental well being in any given year.
Anxiety and depression among children and youth are increasing. Seventy per cent of people with a mental illness began to struggle in their childhood and youth, she said.
Burke said, “People start to define you by your actions and diagnosis.”
Mental illness is the number one cause of disability in the work place. Every year, 500,000 miss work due to mental health problems and cost companies $50 billion in loss productivity each year. Approximately 350 million people live with depression world-wide.
“The only shame is missing out on life,” said Brazil.
If mental illness goes untreated, it can last for years and lead to other problems in life such a drug abuse, Burke said.
“With proper care and treatment, a person can recover and resume a normal lifestyle.”
Local comedian Patrick Ledwell lightened the mood after the presentation by giving the crowd a few laughs.
The Canadian Mental Health Association will host a fundraising event called Women and Wellness on Saturday, May 3, at the Murchison Centre in Charlottetown.