Celebrities like Howie Mandel are urging people to open up about mental health. Screenshot, letstalk.bell.ca

Opinion: Let’s keep talking mental health issues

Campaign aims to bring issues out of the dark

As I write this, it’s Jan. 30, or the day we’re supposed to talk about mental health. So I will.

This campaign has had Bell as a major sponsor and has attracted well-known people in an effort to remove the stigma around mental health. Olympian Clara Hughes has been at the forefront and talked about her own battles with depression.

Let’s Talk features the voices of people like Seth Rogen, Ellen DeGeneres, Mike Babcock and Howie Mandel. (Only recently did I hear Mandel in an interview talking about his serious OCD. He’s deathly scared of germs. His famous rubber glove on the head gag happened, in part, because he always had a glove at the ready.)

The issue is no laughing matter though. As I’ve said before, I was married to someone who suffered from serious depression. She tried reducing her dosage at a turbulent period, with frightening results. There was one night I went to the kitchen to stash any sharp knives after she finally went to sleep. Fortunately, there weren’t more like this.

When we separated, we made it as easy as possible on each other, but I still slid into a period of chronic insomnia, and after four months of my usual tricks to sleep, I enlisted my doctor. I’m not a fan of taking pills, especially as a first line of defence, but he put me on a low dose to take the edge off at bed time. Eventually, after things settled down, I weaned myself off them.

I’ve always had anxiety. It causes me no end of frustration. It forced me to walk on the other side of the street when I was a kid if I recognized someone approaching, unless I knew them well.

A lot of this was fueled by childhood grief over a couple of deaths in the family, but of course no one talked about anything then.

These days, sometimes I feel people over-share (like I’m doing now). Yet, many people still struggle to open up. Sometimes they don’t want to leave themselves vulnerable with people they know well. That’s one advantage of things like support groups. You can go, spill your guts in front of people who have faced similar conflicts and leave it there, or some of it anyway. A guy who ran the grief group I went to always told me when he started going he always felt like he got a little more of the poison out of his system each time.

Of course, talking is not always enough. One editorial this week said as much. Obviously, we need resources, but at least by starting the conversation, we might get a better idea of what is needed.

Some people still don’t get it. After Robin Williams’ high-profile suicide, Gene Simmons offered no sympathy and cited his mother, a concentration camp survivor, as an example of choosing life after facing the worst (he later apologized). I felt like pointing out the example of Primo Levi, a writer and chemist who also survived the camps. At 67 though, suffering from depression, he jumped to his death.

The point here is many people still do not understand or take mental issues seriously. The lesson though is even if you can’t see what’s ailing someone, it doesn’t mean it’s not really there.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at car dealership in Campbell River turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

Home care transition could exacerbate worker shortage: Seniors advocate

Advocate fears impact of eight-hour shift model on an industry under stress

Tofino beckons Trudeau back for Easter vacation

Environmental group hopes latest Pacific Rim vacation inspires change in prime minister

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

VIDEO: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from B.C. pig farm, SPCA says

PETA released video Wednesday showing dead and injured piglets next to nursing piglets

Police charge 27-year-old male in Langford shooting

Justin Lemmen was arrested shortly after the shooting after crashing into a truck

Good Samaritans rescue Sidney senior trapped under mobility scooter

78-year-old broke her pelvis and spent a week in hospital after the accident

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Woman who was chased and tackled after break-in sentenced on Vancouver Island

Natasha Geraldine Harris, 28, was sentenced to time served and will be released from jail

Most Read