In September 2010, ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ began a new conversation about mental health in Canada. ‘MGH Let’s Listen‘ is a Hospital series dedicated to listening to the stories of healthcare providers working and caring for patients experiencing mental health issues in the Canadian healthcare system.
By: Cheryl Nelson-Singh, Clinical Resource Leader, Emergency Department
Over the years, I have witnessed close friends experience the effects of social-stigma and self-stigma as a result of mental health illness.
I have stayed on the phone, into the wee hours of the morning comforting a friend, sat at the bedside in a locked down unit on a mental health ward with another, and most recently attended the funeral of a third friend who unfortunately decided to end their life.
Behind closed doors
At first glance, one would never assume that these individuals were living with a “mental health issue”. They appeared to be successful in their careers, surrounded by a plethora of friends, and were always willing to lend a helping hand to others.
However, behind closed doors laid loneliness, hopelessness, and fear. The stressors in their lives became too much to bear. They continually felt pressured to look perfect. They were too afraid to seek help for fear of looking weak, unstable and incapable.
Laughing, talking, sharing
It’s important to have an outlet to let people talk and express frustrations, or share a good laugh. How? I try to do activities I think are enjoyable and meaningful. I like to volunteer with different charitable organizations. I try to eat healthy (most of the time!), and spend time with family and loved ones.
It’s okay not to be okay. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Eliminating the sting of stigma is the first step in creating a supportive, healthy network.