EDITORIAL: Breaking mental health stigma

In honour of Mental Illness Awareness Week, Vernon School District is working to break the stigma around mental health

When someone has an injury, say a broken arm, they don’t try to hide it. A cast or bandage usually alerts others to their injury, prompting them to lend a hand where they can.

But when it comes to mental health, there aren’t a lot of visible signs that someone is suffering. And due to a fear of being deemed ‘crazy’ those who are suffering tend to keep their illness secret.

In doing so, no one can help them. A friend can’t offer an ear to listen, a school counsellor can’t offer support and loved ones can’t try to help.

So in honour of Mental Illness Awareness Week, today through Saturday, the Vernon School District is working to break the stigma around mental health.

Teachers, counsellors and administrators want students to understand that just like a broken arm, there is no shame in depression, anxiety or bi-polar illness.

No one should be treated unfairly because of any illness, especially when such treatment can exasperate an underlying condition.

There is a major concern that those who don’t seek proper support will turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of self-medicating. But such substances can also exasperate mental illnesses.

So students, parents, family and friends are urged to take in the opportunities this week to better educate themselves on mental health. District-wide presentations will take place, along with mental health screenings and the public can attend the free presentation Tuesday at the rec complex.

With a broader conversation on the topic, it is hoped more people will better understand such illnesses, how to treat them and most importantly, break the stigma.