One of the main things I’ve noticed through my journey with depression, is that there are tons and tons of websites about it. This is excellent news, because people can participate in forums, blog or post about their journey and the internet has made finding support so much easier.
The issue, however, is that these sites are almost always monitored, and there are strict rules about what you can and cannot post. Of course it’s good to foster a positive and inspiring environment, but it doesn’t give an accurate picture about the raw, nitty-gritty stuff. People who run these sites are concerned about triggering people struggling with depression – every raw post must have a disclaimer saying there are triggers within the post, or sometimes it just won’t get posted for being too much of a trigger risk. Yes, we are dealing with a very volatile and serious situation, where small things can be triggers, but it still needs to be discussed, because when I read “triggering” posts, I kept thinking “Yes! I agree! This is so accurate!”, as opposed to the lovely sugar coated posts that say absolutely nothing, where I felt like people weren’t being truthful about how dark and ugly mental illness can be. When I was interviewed about my struggle with depression, and held absolutely nothing back, I also included a disclaimer stating it was much more intense than anything I had said before, but it needed to be said. Part of the reason mental illness is so prevalent is because we don’t talk about it! We don’t say “you know what, you had a rough go at it and dark stuff happened like contemplating or attempting suicide, but lets’ discuss it”. People aren’t afraid to say the word “heart attack” or “stroke” or “aneurism”, but people are terrified to say “suicide”. It’s as if saying it is as bad as swearing. Suicide is a serious epidemic that needs to be brought to light – it’s not Voldemort, where we need to skirt around saying the actual word.
If I asked you, “what is associated with Breast Cancer?” I’m sure every single person could say that it is a pink ribbon. What is the symbol for suicide awareness? Or mental illness awareness? Could you answer that? If so, congratulations, you’re one of very few. This is a serious issue, considering suicide is the number one cause of violent illness worldwide (close to 50%), and a person dies from suicide every 40 seconds, which means that in the time it takes your Keurig to make you a cappuccino, 1 person has died from suicide.
Here are some other hard-hitting facts that most people don’t know: Within 5 years, mental illness is going to be the second leading cause of premature death (after heart disease). At any point in time, 15% of Canadian children or youth (under 18) have a mental illness, and 1/5 people aged 15-24 have a mental illness or substance abuse problem. Some say the onset of mental illness can be as early as age 7! Even with these astounding facts, Canada only designates about 7% of health funding to mental illness, even though over 20% of the population is directly suffering from one.
Even though 80% of people respond very well to treatment (therapy or pharmacological), 2 out of 3 won’t ever get help for their mental illness and 90% of people with depression won’t seek help. Over 50% of people report experiencing a stigma from friends, family or other groups as a result of revealing they have a mental illness. Suicide accounts for 24% of deaths among people aged 15-25, which is close to 1 in 4.
According to a British Columbia study of 15,000 Grade 7 – 12 students:
Those who knew of someone who had attempted or died of suicide: 34%
Had, themselves, seriously contemplated suicide: 16%
Had made a suicide plan: 14%
Had attempted suicide: 7%
Had to have medical attention due to an attempt: 2%
Despite all these astounding facts, with the prevalence of mental illness increasing at an astounding rate, there is not nearly enough being done about it. Therapy from a psychologist or counsellor or therapist, is not covered by most drug plans. Psychiatrist visits are sometimes covered, or partially covered, but the waiting lists to see a psychiatrist are way too long. Drugs like SSRI’s or SNRI’s, which are the most popular for treating depression and anxiety disorders, are seldom covered by basic drug plans, and can be quite expensive for those who need them the most. 70-90% of people who are unemployed have a mental illness.
Based on these facts, it is extremely important that we not only increase awareness about mental illness, but we take it a step further and talk about it without filtering the severity or ugliness of it, because it is the only way to help this epidemic. You can’t solve a problem that is never openly discussed. This issue is becoming bigger and bigger, and it’s time to step up and allow those suffering to speak up without being ostracized or accused of triggering someone else.
All facts taken from The Mood Disorders Society of Canada Quick Facts
Keep Surviving by Living.