As Mental Illness Awareness Week (#MIAW) comes to an end and today is Canadian Thanksgiving, I wanted to write about the strength of those living with mental illness and how I'm feeling thankful for the progress in this area. Many people wake up everyday and getting out of bed seems impossible. Those living with the pain and stigma of mental illness fight a battle everyday. I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge their strength and courage. I've seen firsthand these particular struggles in my family and have recently struggled over the past year with anxiety myself. While living with a mental illness can be extremely difficult and there is still some stigma in even talking about it, I felt very hopeful in the things I've seen and heard this week.
There are so many great people creating change and hope for better ways of treating and talking about mental illness. For one, The Royal announced this week a $2-million donation from DIFD and the Mach-Gaensslen Foundation to fund a Chair in Suicide Prevention. This new research will hopefully shine light on new ways of treating mental illness and specifically helping to prevent suicide. This gives me hope for a world where no one will feel so low that they don't have any other option and no one will have to suffer the pain of losing someone to suicide.
In addition to this awesome announcement, this week I was at a workplace building downtown as well as at Carleton University's Mental Illness Awareness Week tables promoting mental health and the HealthyMinds app (a really cool app for helping deal with stress, anxiety, etc.). I really enjoy talking to people about mental health and offering any sort of information or help that I can. While I'm not a mental health professional of any sort, I can offer an ear to listen and any type of informational resources I have on hand. The sheer fact that large universities and workplaces are celebrating this week like any other and social media exploded with tips, resources, fascinating tweet chats and new articles, shows progress. It's weeks like these that truly give me hope for a much brighter future for those living with mental illness. It will take more time to keep on chipping away at the stigma and raising awareness/funds for research and equipment, etc., but there has been a lot of progress and for that, I am hopeful. I think it's important to recognize this progress because it's major and long overdue.
If you're living with mental illness, I commend you for fighting this battle as I know it's not easy. Please keep fighting and don't be afraid to talk to someone. Trust me, I know it's not easy but it helps, a lot.
Also, don't underestimate the power of a smile or a compliment, it can literally change a persons life. It's happened to me. Don't just think compliments, say them. Smile at everyone you see. Be kind, always. For everyone you know is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
PS- here's someone who's suffering right now but still has a message of hope.