The passing of Robin Williams has been on many people’s mind these past few days, and with it a larger discussion on mental health is opening up once again. How can someone who brought joy to so many have suffered so greatly?
The truth of the matter is that Mr. William’s profession had little to do with it. Every single Canadian is indirectly affected by mental illness, and 20% of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lives. Most of us will or have already experienced some level of mental health challenge.
As an interviewee in a recent mental health video we made said, if you had a broken ankle you wouldn’t just walk around on it all day. Just because a mental health challenge isn’t visible, doesn’t mean you should be ‘walking around on it’ all day either.
There is still an overwhelming stigma around talking about mental health creating a massive wall for those who are facing challenges right when they need to talk about them most.
The more general cultural discussion is opening up right now, but how many of us talk about personal mental health challenges as they’re happening?
There’s no quick fix that will destigmatize mental health for everyone at once. If there was, we’d get rid of that stigma today. But it is possible to work on the issue one small step at a time. Something a simple as checking in with a friend — even if it looks like they’re having a perfectly normal day — can make all the difference.
We’ve been learning lots of little tips like that this year as we’ve been working with a lot more mental health organizations, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from working with them, it’s that there are many, many great resources out there for people experiencing a mental health challenge.
Like Mindcheck, a fantastic mental health resource for youth that we recently worked with to create a video and print resource for teaching mental health in British Columbian secondary schools (currently in its pilot phase).
Or AnxietyBC, another great resource that addresses stress and anxiety, issues absolutely everyone deals with as part of life.
Seeking help via resources like HealthLinkBC, or referring friends to them is a great way to explore or help others explore mental health in a comfortable environment, getting informed without having to worry about the stigma around what they may be experiencing.
As we mourn the loss of Robin Williams and think of all of those who have suffered with mental health challenges in the past or present, it is good to see the conversation changing and so many great organizations already out there ready for us all to support. The ones we’ve worked with so far have been incredible, and we look forward to doing everything we can to support more mental health initiatives in the work that we do.
Let’s cap things off on a lighter note with a little sketch we did for AnxietyBC on how anxiety can affect your expectations in social situations.
And no, I’m not just posting it because I play the socially anxious guy.
Okay maybe just a little.