Attitudes Around Mental Health are Changing, More Work to be Done

When a discussion about mental health and mental illness arises, there are several key themes which inevitably come to the surface.

A popular reoccurring one in this discussion is the stigma associated with mental illness.

It wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t dare talk about it. If we were struggling with our mental health we kept quiet instead of exposing ourselves to the risk of being the subject of neighbourhood gossip and shame.

In the media, rarely were thoughtful or insightful pieces about mental illness published or aired by respectable media organizations. If mental illness were to grab a headline or a segment on the six o’clock news, it was typically presented in a negative manner filled with stigmatizing words like ‘psycho’ or ‘insane’.

Thankfully, times have, in fact, changed.

Today, not only are we more accepting of mental illness in our society, but it is now common to see companies such as Bell, RBC and Scotiabank make an investment and commitment to funding awareness and treatment programs to support mental illness.

Thanks to support from the corporate community, as well as the government and media’s positioning of mental health and mental illness as issues of significance, opportunities have been created for many people to get the help.

While our mental well-being has become less of a taboo subject in society today, we would be naive to think it no longer existed.

According to a study conducted by the Globe and Mail, almost half of Canadians believe that diagnosed mental illness is just “an excuse for poor behaviour and personal failings.” The same study revealed one in 10 people believe that mentally ill people could “just snap out of it if they wanted.”

It’s these types of attitudes which inspired #MindVine, our new social media section at www.ontarioshores.ca. Talking about mental illness, connecting experts to people in need of information and opinions and sharing of personal stories of struggle and recovery will ignite conversation and break down the stigma associated with mental health and provide a clear picture of Ontario Shores as an organization and its role in the community.

The road to a stigma-free society is a long one. But there is reason to believe.

After years working in the mental health sector I have witnessed a significant shift in attitudes regarding mental health along with a greater investment in treatment and awareness. This trend instills hope that our society is opening more doors every day for people who need the help of the mental health care system.

We have come a long way, but this important work must continue until shame or embarrassment no longer plays a role in a person’s decision to come forward and receive help.