We all know what this day means. It has been years since Bell first began this initiative and it picks up steam every year just before the big day. Then the day comes and people use the hashtag all over social media and everyone using Bell as their service provider sends more texts and calls more people than they ever would on a regular day. Which is great. Every 5c counts, right?
That is true. It’s great. This day marks a day where almost every person is concerned about mental health. Or… feigning concern. At the very least, they’re contributing donations to mental health initiatives. But like I say every year, it’s just one day. And the talk about mental health has a way of disappearing after that one day.
Just over a year and a half ago, I became a mental health professional. I never thought the day would come where I actually get to help people who are struggling but, here I am, doing it. And as a psychologist, I get to do so much more than that.
I get the privilege of hearing unique and heartbreaking stories. I get the privilege of being the first person they come out to. I get the privilege of watching them cry because they feel so hurt.
I also get the privilege of seeing them walk a little bit lighter on their feet at the end of a session. I get the privilege of noticing the first time they uncross their arms. I get the privilege of advocating for them when they need it.
Mostly, I get the privilege of being there for them. Of helping them hold all their hurt. And sometimes, that’s all they need.
The phrase, “I’ve never told anyone that before”, is pretty common in my line of work. Through all the crap clients are trying to get through, they also have to deal with feeling like they can’t talk to anyone. Because that’s the stigma of mental health. It makes us cower… hiding our “worst” selves for fear of rejection.
Today is about breaking that stigma. About letting our demons roam the earth with us. About letting the people in our lives help us fight them off.
As I do every year, I urge those struggling with mental illness to talk to somebody you trust. Even a little bit. A friend, your parents, siblings, a teacher. It makes a world of difference just having one person know.
And for those who might be doing just fine right now, check on your family and friends. If you notice someone seems off, ask them about it. Even if you don’t, ask them. I know it isn’t usual to ask someone “How’s your mental health lately?” but, maybe it should be usual.
Mental illness isn’t afraid to take control of us. Not in the least. So we need to take back control. Do your part today. Be a human being and talk to someone. And listen. And tomorrow, keep doing the same.