One in five Canadians will experience mental illness in his or her lifetime, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Research. Most are unwilling to discuss it with a friend, relative or co-worker.
Hughes didn’t realize she was tumbling into a serious depression in 1996. She wasn’t alone. According to statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association, about three million Canadians have a serious depression at any given time. They think they can get out of it by working harder – then blame themselves when it doesn’t work.
Clara has real courage and I really like this Let’s Talk campaign. If we start talking openly about struggles with depression, bipolar disease, or whatever, we’ll start realizing how many people we care about struggle with these issues… and more importantly let them know that they have support networks of people who really care. A student of mine, Laura recently gave a talk UBC recently that was open in this way and I was really proud of her.
Today I also spent a lot of time thinking about another student and friend of mine Drew. I have really good memories of sitting on the bus beside Drew talking about his work. He was a really smart guy. I often think of him when the sunshine hits the leaves in the right way on the drive out to UBC. I was running through Pacific Spirit park today and memories of Drew flooded back to me. I remember writing a note to his sister and sending some of Drew’s science papers to his family after he died. When I did this, I remember thinking that Drew would probably be surprised by how many people were affected by his death and by how often we think of him. I think it’s important that we tell people how much we love and appreciate them and how they make our lives better daily. You can do this directly or you can do it indirectly by asking questions like, “What have you been thinking about lately?” and “How are you?” and then listening. The listening and caring part is what makes it safe to talk openly about the challenges everyone is having. One in five Canadians – that’s a lot of us in this together.