The Importance of Sharing and Seeking Support for Mental Health

Why Sharing and Seeking Support is Important

Think about a time when you had good news to share with someone. . . maybe you did well at school or your manager recognized your hard work. Who did you share this with. We like to share good news with those we care about and trust, but many of us find it hard to tell someone if we are not doing so well. This can be especially true for those of us living with mental health challenges or illnesses.

In fact, 42% of Canadians were not sure if they would socialize with a friend who has a mental illness. So you can see the impact that stigma can have on us talking about our mental health. Some even said the stigma can be even worse than the illness itself…. . . and this stigma can prevent people from getting help early or even at all, and can limit the supports people need to get better.

Let’s look at an example: This is Juan. Juan has been worrying a lot lately and is feeling very stressed. He’s not sleeping well and is feeling really sad. He doesn’t want to tell his family or friends because he thinks they won’t understand. So he has been keeping his feelings to himself for months and things are getting worse. Luckily, Juan’s friend Marco has noticed changes in Juan and asks “Hey …. what’s going on, you haven’t been yourself lately, how ya doing. ” Juan trusts Marco because he’s been there for him in the past. He feels Marco is a safe person to talk to, so he shares how badly he’s feeling. Marco listens and tells Juan that he is there for him. After some research, Marco suggests that they call a distress center line to get more information on what to do next, and where more help is available.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a friend like Marco…and because of stigma, we don’t always treat mental health challenges the same as we do physical health challenges. Think about the last time you weren’t feeling well physically, like when you had a fever that didn’t go away, or you sprained your ankle…. . . . . What did you do. You probably told someone close to you and went to get it checked out right away. Just like physical health challenges… we need to treat our mental health in the same way. It’s important to talk to a professional if you are having challenges with your mental health. Getting support EARLY can help us stay mentally healthy or prevent our mental health challenges from getting worse. When going through mental health challenges or illness, it also helps to talk about how you are doing with the people you love and trust so they can support you. You don’t HAVE to share with others, but it can really help to have positive supports in your life when going through difficult times. It is up to you if and when you will share. If you do share REMEMBER, some people may not respond the way you want them to. Some communities and families NEVER talk about mental health. Some people might even be mean to you. This can be especially true if you talk about your struggles on social media. People can be mean on there. Make sure you are in a good place and ready before you share or post anything online…. . and remember, if you need help but don’t know where to go, call a distress centre line as there are ALWAYS professionals who can help you. Once you feel you are in a safe place and want to share, how do you start. Well, start by picking people you really trust. Ask them if you can share something with them Tell them how you are feeling. You don’t have to share everything at once… if the person responds in a positive way…. you can always share more and talk to them again. If the person doesn’t respond well, think about who else may be a safe person to share with. And if someone shares their concerns with you, you don’t have to know all the answers…or give any answers, in fact it’s best to just listen, be supportive and encourage them to get help. If you are concerned about their safety or your safety, call 911 or your local distress line. Think about some things you can do that would make you feel more comfortable to start talking about your own mental health, or things you can do if someone shares their mental health challenges with you. Write these things down so you can go back to them when you need them…. . . ca Brought to you by Ottawa Public Health with support from Bell Let's Talk

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