What about mental illness are you not aware of? Do you discriminate against people who have a mental illness?
Do you know if you have or have had a mental health issue? Do you know if anyone in your family has a mental illness? Do you know if anyone you work with has a mental illness?
Do you know where to go for help if you or any of these people need it?
What would you do if someone you work with suddenly presented with symptoms of a psychotic episode? Would you turn your back or would you try to find some answers for them.
What would you do if your friend said they were going to kill themselves? Would you know who to call or what questions to ask?
What would you do if you met a woman in the grocery store who was not able to move or catch her breath because she was having an anxiety attack? How could you help?
Each one of us has the capacity to support people who have mental illness. The only ingredient necessary is the desire to be compassionate and the ability to ask questions. If all you can do is sit with someone for a while until help comes that is enough. If you know how to find a local on-call mental health team or hospital you can generally find help. If you have a computer and the internet you can learn about mental illnesses. Knowledge is power but ignorance is stagnation.
There isn’t enough service to help and there never will be. There isn’t enough political will to make mental health a priority. There aren’t enough community services, councellors, therapists, psychiatrists, or peer supporters to do all the work that is needed but if Canadians changed their attitude about mental illness and took it as seriously as cancer or heart disease all of that would change.
If you want to be part of the solution start by educating yourself.
Below are some links which may help.