Talking About Mental Health
In the past few years, depression has reached epidemic levels. According to recent statistics by the Canadian Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH), “In any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem.” This is a staggering number, and it’s very important to know the signs and symptoms. Mental illness still faces stigma and education can go on a long way in combating ignorance.
Depression is a large problem for the whole population, but young people are especially at risk. The CAMH website states that, “70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.”
People suffering from depression need the support of friends and family, especially in the critical time of adolescence and the transition from high school to the workplace or postsecondary education. It’s important to learn the signs of depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. People with depression aren’t “lazy” or “looking for attention”, they have a psychiatric disorder.
Signs of depression can be seen if you pay attention, even if the affected person is trying to hide it. The most prominent signs and symptoms are being tired more than usual, feelings of guilt, lack of interest in life and insomnia, just to name a few. They tend to socialize less and stop doing things they used to enjoy.
People with depression may not want to discuss it, especially with the stigma that surrounds mental illness. It can be frustrating living with a depressed person, but its important to understand that they didn’t choose to feel this way, that they are suffering and it’s more difficult for them to handle.
If you suspect that one of your family members or friends are depressed, it’s important to tell them you support them and they aren’t alone. Let them know how much they mean to you. Ask them what’s troubling them and listen carefully.
There are several things that one should never say to a depressed person; these either do nothing or make things worse and should be avoided at all costs. This includes stuff like “get over yourself” or “you’re just looking for attention.” Saying that there is always someone worse off doesn’t help because depression can be caused by many factors. One person’s misfortune does not negate another’s.
If they start to talk about death, give away their possessions for no reason, talk about self-harm and mention suicide in conversation, this is serious and it’s important to inform a doctor, counselor or psychiatrist immediately. Doing this could save someone’s life.
If you or someone you know is depressed or suicidal there emergency lines to call that specialize in helping people with depression. Along with 911, you can call:
Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000
Mental health services in Ontario 1-866-531-2600
Telecare Distress Centre Brampton Ontario Hotline: +1 (905) 459 7777
Telecare Distress Centre Etobicoke Ontario Hotline: +1(416) 247-5426
North Halton Distress Centre Ontario Hotline: +1 (905) 877-1211
Distress Centres of Toronto Ontario Hotline: +1 (416) 408 4357
Kid’s/Teen Help Phone 1-800-668-6868