Student Campaign Challenging Mental Health Stigma

Fall 2012
Class Assignment

BY: NICOLA MACLEOD

Students across the country are calling out the way Canadians think about mental health.

Let’s Call Bulls#!t is a nationally youth driven campaign aiming to help young people speak more openly about mental health and eradicate stigmas.

The campaign is run by the Partners for Mental Health, an organization who aim to change the way Canadians perceive and seek help for mental health issues. Backed by students, the campaign has recently come to St. Thomas University.

“It’s a taboo topic,”says St. Thomas University Student Kevin Lemieux. “People need to break down the stigma and get talking about these issues that affect so many Canadians.”

In Canada, one in five or 1 million youth have mental health problems while only 25 per cent are seeking help.

Though we have come a long way in Canada, there are still not enough resources to available to those battling mental health issues, says social worker Jackie Doran-MacLeod.

“People wait a long time before coming forward and asking for help,” says Doran-MacLeod. “People aren’t quite sure what’s going on with them, they’re scared.”

“The most important thing is to open about one’s problems,” says Brett Boudreau, who was forced to drop out of university after being diagnosed with schizophrenia in his first year. “Shying away from talking about mental health can drive you deeper into the hole of depression and social withdrawal.”

“People who are mentally ill are still people like everyone else.”

Last year, approximately 4000 teenagers in Canada committed suicide, making it the second leading cause of death among youth, behind motor vehicle accidents.
Canada is experiencing a new wave of mental health awareness. New campaigns are appearing and prominent figures are starting to speak out.

In March, Toronto will host the first Student Mental Health Innovation Summit in Canada.

Mental health is not only an issue for youth. New studies show that one in five adults suffer from workplace depression.

Lack of enthusiasm, increase in errors, decreased productivity and inability to concentrate are all symptoms of workplace depression, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“Nobody has written the story of workplace depression and it’s important for people to feel they’re not alone,” says journalist Jan Wong, whose most recent book Out of the Blue chronicles her time battling workplace depression and subsequent firing from The Globe and Mail.

Many experts in Canada would argue that we still have stigmas and misconceptions surrounding mental health because people are afraid to talk openly.
“I felt I was all alone when it was happening to me, and then when I did more research I realized it was so pervasive,” said Wong.

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