Mental illness certainly leaves those who experience it with scars. Stigma is others laughing at your scars, laughing at your illness, either blatantly or by ignorance. Stigma makes you feel ashamed, embarrassed, horrified, defeated. You are not yourself anymore- you are only the big ugly scar. Scars fade over time but the hurt associated with them will never go away. You will always remember the words, the looks, the hidden meanings.
But then, you have to do something so brave in your life that many people cannot do- you have to expose your scars for the whole world to see and tell the truth. The truth is that mental illness scars are just as valid as cancer scars, as diabetes scars, and that mental illness does not define you as a person- until you let it define you.
It has been a special day for all of us at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) and, ultimately, everyone interested in building a mental health care system that meets the needs of Ontarians.
The Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, visited Ontario Shores to deliver word of a new service which will positively impact children and youth in Ontario, and their families.