EDITORIAL: Still much to learn about mental health

There remains a lot to learn when it comes to understanding mental illness, and removing the stigma associated with it.

Sure, we all talk the talk, and every once in a while we flood social media with trendy hashtags showing how much we care, but what about the rest of the time?

How often do you look the other way, when you see someone on the street who doesn’t exactly “fit the societal model” when it comes to behaviour, or appearance?

How often do we turn the other way, or “tsk, tsk” in disgust, when we see someone in need of help?

How often do we share inappropriate links, laugh when we should offer empathy, or rant when we should offer help?

In this, the era of information, there is more awareness than ever before regarding mental health issues.

From governments, to doctors, to individuals stepping out of their comfort zones to inform the public of their own struggles, we are learning more about the challenges surrounding mental health all the time.

Comox Valley resident Suzanne Venuta is one individual who immediately comes to mind. Her struggles with dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) have been documented in The Record. She has gone public with her challenges in an effort to educate.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She was recently honoured by the Coast Mental Health Foundation as the recipient of the 2018 Courage to Come Back Award, in the mental health category.

The GP Vanier grad was diagnosed with the condition 15 years ago and has since become an educator in mental health issues. She conducts speaking engagements, has an ongoing blog (livingsucessfullywithdid.blogspot.ca.), and educates and mentors youth with similar mental health issues.

Suzanne is but one of the many examples of people in our society giving others a better understanding of mental health, and mental illness.

As understanding increases, the stigmas diminish. Knowledge is power.

May 7-13 is Mental Health Week in Canada. For more information, visit mentalhealthweek.ca

–Terry Farrell

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