By Sarah Seeley
Feb. 4, 2014
Health minister Doug Currie said mental health is a growing concern on P.E.I. and all Islanders are responsible for helping others who struggle with mental illness.
Currie spoke at an information session on mental health held by the P.E.I. division of the Mental Health Association at the Centre for Community Engagement at Holland College Feb. 3.
Currie said the biggest barrier to supporting those with mental health is the stigma about the disease.
“Mental health is no different than any other illness.”
He also said everyone should take the initiative to support those with mental illnesses
“We all must help.”
About one in five Canadians will struggle with a mental health problem at some point in their life. A number too big to ignore, said Reid Burke, a representative from the Canadian Mental Health Association.
He asked students not to treat the people with mental illnesses like a statistic.
“It’s more than a statistic, it’s someone you know.”
Burke explained some general information about the different types of mental illnesses, the symptoms of the various diseases, and how mental illnesses are caused.
He said about 70 per cent of people with mental illnesses developed them in childhood and only one in five of those children receive the support they need.
“We don’t make too much noise about that.”
Mental health has an impact in workplaces. According to a study done by the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental health is the No. 1 disability in Canadian workplaces.
Amanda Brazil, another representative of the association, talked about stress and depression. She listed the causes of depression and the symptoms.
Depression is not a character flaw or a mood, said Brazil.
“Depression is an illness, not a weakness.”
About 350 million Canadians struggle and 66 per cent of depressed people don’t get help, said Brazil.
“Getting help is a sign of strength.”
About four out of five people who seek treatment will be cured, said Brazil.
Burke said depression is a curable illness.
“It’s not a life sentence.”
Brazil said people with depression don’t get treatment because they don’t want anyone to know they have a mental illness. There is stigma about the disease because people don’t know enough about it.
“We tend to shy away from what we don’t understand.”
Burke said it is everyone’s responsibility to encourage those with mental illnesses.
“You can have a huge influence on someone struggling.”
Island comedian Patrick Ledwell closed the presentation by telling some jokes about his fellow Islanders. He said as a comedian he battles with stress.
“Anxiety is a struggle for me. A daily one.”