Support-groupSo yesterday was #BellLetsTalk day concerning mental health, and while days and awareness promotion like this are important, I believe these types of conversations should be on-going. “Let’s talk” isn’t just about being heard but it is also about others listening and being open minded. (No judgement)

I once heard a service providing outreach worker, when talking about harm reduction, say that one of the greatest tools was simply listening and allowing those in need… to talk.

Most often I think we hear of mental health or illness as being social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, drug addiction, and personality disorders such as bipolar or schizophrenia. But it goes beyond that, it is about a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being and that can translate to include various challenges and disabilities. Such as learning disability, brain injury, HIV or AIDS, cancer, or any type of trauma someone might go through.

On top of this there is also the alterations one must make and try to insert into their lifestyles. Things such as taking new medications, making accommodations in life, (whether professionally or personally) paying closer attention to any kind of limitations. Things can be stagnant or episodic.

No one wants to face or feel isolation, and therefore, probably the biggest issue when it comes to mental health, is that it is not “visible”. But in no way does that mean it is not real.

Things like stigma, misconceptions and fear pretty much generate from the lack of talking, whether it be via personal means or educational. Day’s like the #BellLetsTalk day serve as great reminders that to really break down the barriers and bring down the silos we need to open up the dialogue and talk to one another.

By Mark Koning

Mark is the Communications & Administration Coordinator with the AIDS Committee of York Region. Mark is also an Author and Blogger of Challenging Barriers and The BIST Blog. (Brain Injury Society of Toronto)