SAM ODROWSKI The Standard
This year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day resulted in over 138-million social media interactions and raised almost $7-million to go towards mental health facilities, initiatives, and research in Canada.
Locally, Ontario Shores received a sizeable donation from Bell that will have a direct impact on the patients that the hospital cares for.
Ontario Shores Mental Health First Aid Coordinator, Christina Fuda said, “Bell has donated money to our hospital, from some of the proceeds they raised and the amount of care and patients that have been helped at Ontario Shores from the donations from Bell and other companies have helped the lives of people greatly.”
Bell Let’s Talk Day focuses on changing people’s perception of mental illness as well as ending stigma. Christina told The Standard that anytime people talk about stigma, they are essentially talking about prejudice and discrimination against people with mental illnesses.
She said as a society we are getting better at eliminating the stigma associated with mental illnesses but still have a long way to go.
“When we talk about discrimination we still have it in the work place where we think people are faking it, that they’re just looking for attention, or they’re trying to get out of work, or are lazy,” Christina said. “It is still very prevalent in the work place and sometimes people won’t get help because they are afraid they will lose their job or promotion.”
According to Christina, the best way to fight stigma is through education and awareness.
She said, “The only way we can really combat stigma, is to fully understand what mental illness is.”
Christina told the Standard that mental illness is simply an illness in the brain, the brain is an organ and like all organs in the human body, it is susceptible to sickness.
The brain is the most important organ in the human body, it regulates emotions, memories, learning, the ability to concentrate, and pay attention. So when the brain gets sick, all of those functions and processes are effected, and essentially get sick as well, according to Christina.
She said, “So many people view mental illness as a weakness, but it’s not a weakness, it’s not laziness, it’s an illness just like anything else.”
When it comes to helping family and friends who may be experiencing mental health issues, Christina encourages everyone to take a mental health first aid training course.
“It is a two day, hands on training course that teaches people how to recognize the signs and symptoms of illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar, substance abuse, and schizophrenia,” Christina said.
If anybody is interested in taking the mental health training course, they can contact Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org and express their interest. She encourages everybody to take the course, especially people who have family or friends that live with a mental illness.
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