Stop Scrolling and Let’s Talk

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Charity Spotlight: This blog post is part of our charity spotlight series and was provided by Jennifer Lewandowski, Communications Lead at the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.

If you’re like any busy Canadian on the go, you probably clicked on this link while scrolling through your phone as you sit on the bus traveling home, maybe you’re browsing Facebook while sitting on the couch and watching television in the background, or maybe you’re grabbing a quick bite and catching up on the world’s news on your mobile. Wherever you are, or however busy you may be at the moment, stop what you’re doing because we need to talk.

Let’s take a moment to talk about the impact of mental illness on Canadians and our economy. Consider this:

  • In Canada, more than $50 billion is lost annually from loss of productivity, medical fees, and unemployment due to mental illness, and every week, half a million Canadians miss work due to mental illness or a psychiatric issue.
  • Only 23 percent of people say they would talk about their mental illness with their employer.
  • Approximately 20 to 25 percent of people in the workforce are affected by a mental health problem every year. Not in their lifetime, every year.

So why the startling statistics? The answer is simple: mental illness and stigma. The stigma surrounding mental illness runs so deep that countless people struggling with the burden are doing so in silence. We’ve all grown up with prejudices and judgmental thinking, but we can change the way people think! How can we stop the stigma? Here are a few easy tips to consider this Mental Health Week:

  1. Language matters. Refuse to perpetuate or tolerate stigma by changing your language and attitude about people living with mental illness. The words you use can make all the difference. Words can help but they can also hurt so don’t use the words “schizo” or “crazy” to refer to a person living with mental illness.
  2. Take a stand. Ask others to stop promoting stigma and using hurtful language.
    Educate yourself. Stigma has been around for a long time and knowing the facts and myths about mental illness can be a great way to help end stigma. Read the facts and know the myths to become a stigma buster.
  3. Be kind. Simple kindness can make a world of difference. Whether it be a smile, being a good listener, or an invitation for coffee and a chat, these simple acts of kindness can help open up the conversation and let someone know you are there for them.  Expressions like “You’ll get over it” and “Just relax” can minimize how a person is feeling. Instead, offer your support and say “I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well.” Ask what you can do to help.
  4. Talk about it. Break the silence. Mental illness touches us all in some way directly or through a friend, family member, or colleague. Stories of people who have experienced mental health issues and who are doing well can really challenge stereotypes. Most people with mental health issues can and do recover, just by talking about it.

Who We Are

The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is a charity dedicated to improving the lives of Nova Scotians living with mental illness and their loved ones. We raise funds for vital programs and services that help make this possible, province-wide. Our vision is to see Nova Scotians with mental illness thriving in our communities.

Since 2006, we have provided more than $3 million in funding through our Community Grants and Nova Scotia Health Authority Mental Health & Addictions, Central Zone (NSMHA) Grants to programs and community organizations with a mental health mandate. Programs and services include mental health staff training, healthy living initiatives, community integration supports, housing projects, anti-stigma education, and anti-bullying programs. We also fund inpatient grants that focus on art therapy, recreation therapy, wilderness and community outings, peer support sessions, coffee hours, music therapy, etc. Incredibly, last year’s grants impacted an estimated 30,000 individuals directly through programs and services, and an estimated 150,000 people indirectly.

At the end of the day, we’re here to remind patients and Nova Scotians living with mental illness that they are whole people. Yes, they require doctors, medication and the support of family and friends, but they also require all of those things so many of us take for granted – socialization, music, art, dance, communication, beauty, learning and so much more.

To learn more about the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, or to make a donation, visit their Charity Profile Page.

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