According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, more than 60 per cent of people with mental health problems and illnesses won’t seek the help they need and stigma is one of the main deterrents. A stigma is a negative stereotype or attitude and the resulting negative behaviours they produce.
“We encourage all Durham Region residents to take steps to increase their mental health literacy and learn about the difference between mental health and mental illness,” explains Stephanie Wilms, a public health nurse with the Health Department. “Understanding the differences will help you recognize when you, or the people close to you, are in need of help.”
Mental health can be gained and lost each day through our interactions, relationships and how we behave towards one another. A person may not have a mental illness but can still have poor mental health. Similarly, a person can have a mental illness but still have good mental health. Simple steps to help reduce stigma and promote mental health include treating everyone with respect, being caring and non-judgemental, as well as learning facts about mental health and mental illness.
“We need to recognize how much we have in common with others - there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ when it comes to mental health and well-being,” Ms. Wilms continues.
“It’s sometimes even a matter of our everyday language. Instead of saying “that person is schizophrenic”, phrase it as “that person is being treated for schizophrenia. Also, we encourage everyone to take a few minutes to follow the Bell Let’s Talk campaign and become part of the conversation about mental health and mental illness.”
For more information on mental health, visit durham.ca/mental or check our Durham Healthy Families on Facebook @DurhamFamilies and on Twitter Information is also available by calling Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6214 or 1-800-841-2729.