May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I will be sharing about a new topic each day on my social media. Please follow along on Instagram (@valerybrosseau), Facebook (Valéry Brosseau) or Patreon (Valéry Brosseau) for all the information! Here is a schedule of the topics I will be covering.
I wanted to start the month off with some facts and data to give all the information I will be sharing some context. Mental health is gaining more traction and awareness initiatives are starting to effect change, but a lot of work still has to be done. Mental illness affects all of us whether we know someone struggling or we are living with it ourselves and we need to keep building the conversation with honesty and candidness.
Being open and understanding about mental illness is so important to breaking down the stigma surrounding it. Stigma can be a huge barrier to seeking help. People struggling with mental health issues are taught to feel shame and to keep quiet about their issues. By starting an open, compassionate and understanding conversation about mental illness we can connect with each other and make it easier for people to seek help.
The following facts are a very brief overview of part of what is going on with regard to mental illness, mostly in Canada and the US.
· 1 in 5 Canadians and Americans will experience mental illness or addiction in their lifetime
· People with physical health conditions are more likely to experience mental health conditions
· Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Canada
· The economic burden of mental illness in Canada is $51 billion per year
· The economic burden in terms of loss of income in the US is $53 billion per year
· Mental health is underrepresented in research and conversation when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community and POC
· People in the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to experience mental health concerns, due in part to factors such as discrimination and hate crimes
· POC face a unique experience when it comes to mental health, including different and sometimes higher risk factors as well as barriers to resources and treatment that others may not experience
Access to Resources
· Over 1.6 million Canadians report not getting the mental health care they need each year
· The WHO states that almost 20% of countries do not have access to at least one antidepressant, one antipsychotic, and one anti-epileptic medication in primary care settings
· A significant number of Americans state stigma as a barrier to accessing proper mental healthcare
Many of these topics are ones I will be sharing more about in the coming weeks.
Mental health advocacy is my passion because it directly affects me, but mostly because I know my story can help people feel less alone and can help educate them. I have survived years of struggle with the support of those in my life, of some incredible health professionals and the strength I continue to build everyday. The more we educate ourselves and understand the ramifications of not acting, the more we can combat stigma and better support each other.