And this affects us all.
Regardless of who you are, where you live, what you make, the house you live in, the car you drive or how much money is in your bank account.
Mental health affects every single one of us either directly or indirectly and many times both at the same time.
Our mental health care system is broken.
I would love to bring a change so we see more people living than suffering and dying. I am only one person, I know. Ive been back and forth with this for a very long time. However if 1 person cannot find the courage to step up and challenge our current “norm” how can a change happen?
This is very near and dear to my heart. In my life I have been affected by mental health both direct and indirect. Im honestly not sure if either is any easier.
From my experience our health care system – which we truly are lucky to have – is a symptom based system to “fix” what is wrong and move on. People are prescribed highly addictive synthetic medications, sometimes cocktails of medications to manage the symptoms – which is “how they are feeling”. I have personally experienced this myself with both my physical and emotional health. Our medical system is purely that – medical. Medicinal based treating symptoms vs healthy living preventative health care promoting living and being in a cleaner, more nutritious life.
I personally struggled for years. Many of those years keeping quiet because, well technically I was “fine”. When I finally did go for help, it was after many negative experiences in my life and many years later. Counseling did help, if you have considered it go – honestly do not even give it a second thought worrying what others may think or say, like I did for years. Even after I began I still hid what I was doing, almost ashamed. Ashamed of something that truly was never my problem – I can only control the way I act and treat others, not the way others treat me.
After our daughter was born I began to feel myself sink and having a baby and 18mth old at home I knew I needed to ask for help. But before I could, I finally opened up to my husband who very openly could see I was struggling and encouraged me to get help. My help was “go home and take one of these pills each morning”…
So I did. I relied on these pills to just make everything better for me. Which of course it didn’t.
The sad thing is I know I am not alone. I know there are so many people out there suffering and feeling challenged by how they feel and are living – but truly don’t know what to do. People who are in much more serious need for mental health attention but cannot get access to it.
In June 2014 I made a decision to [finally] take hold of my health. Its been a journey. A very enlightening, eye opening, raw, strength finding, loving, caring, empathetic journey that isn’t for the faint of heart. A journey that truly is different for each individual person and is lifelong once you decide to embark.
As I am now stronger both physically and emotionally I know I can help others make a difference in their life and perhaps even help shift our mental health care system in Canada.
I dream of a system that is accessible to every single person and supports a family care initiative. Loved ones seeing a family member in dire straights should have every right to get that person to help. Loved ones must be involved in the process of mental health regardless of age.
October is ADHD Awareness month and I am proud to use this as an example. Our son’s grade 1 teacher told him and myself that he “has ADHD and must be on medication” as well as “he cannot do this, doesn’t want to do that and can’t do this” – a typical response by many ‘outsiders’ because my experience with this comes in two directions.
- The statement of “he has ADHD and must be on medication” is the typical response to “treat” what is going on physically – many ADHD boys have a hard time sitting still, staying focused for any length of time and understanding personal space. ADHD is very real. We very much live an ADHD lifestyle which since our son’s diagnosis has also truly transformed our life. ADHD also affects children and adults emotionally as well. So my son hearing the above statement sent him into a tailspin of hating school even more than he previously disliked. He was falling behind in what he “should know” and became a very unhappy child. However we do not look at it as needing “something” to fix him – our son is absolutely incredible and by supporting him where he truly needs support we are able to see his true personality and intelligence shine through. By choosing to first look at our surroundings, our routine, the food and drinks we consume, the products we use – to help paint us a more thorough picture. The other key factor we learned was our son has a learning disability – difference actually because he learns differently outside of what the “standard” says how he should learn… this was a big part of how he was being affected emotionally. He is a very intelligent child, however by learning different the “standard school” atmosphere of learning was completely off for him. Had I just listened to that teacher and put my child on medication, he would have missed out on understanding that he does learn differently, that counselling at any age is OK, its OK to ask questions – even more than once, everyone learns at different stages, behavioural modification and real life lessons. Most of all I believe he would have seen his personality as a burden vs a strength of who he is. What needed to happen was his parents needed to educate themselves more of what living an ADHD life is all about and embrace it! Interesting thing… its also the way his mother should be living (with PCOS) and a healthier way of living for our entire family.
- When our son was evaluated to see if he did in fact have Inattentive ADHD (which we knew before the evaluation) the following had to happen…
- Questionnaire filled out by the parents.
- Questionnaire filled out his previous year teacher.
- Questionnaire filled our by his current year teacher.
- Meeting with the principal.
- Review of school records.
- Evaluation by the board Psychologist with our son over a few weeks.
- Meeting with parents, psychologist, principal and teachers.
By voicing my stance am I saying I am against medications – not at all! There are times when they truly are needed. However in the above circumstance with our son, we were involved as a family on what was going on and were given the choice to choose how best to support him because he is under 18. I truly believe it is because of this that not only he, but we as a family are now thriving.
Why is this important? Because ADHD is a form of mental illness. Our son was under 18 at the time of his evaluation and diagnosis so his parents were automatically involved. We had concerns so we could voice them and see results happen because of voicing our opinion and being involved 100% of the way.
Our mental health goes beyond medication.
Our mental health goes beyond just ourselves.
Our mental health is the most precious thing we each have in our life.
The difference is once you are 18 you are ALONE.
This may sound harsh, is it? Yes very much. But its the bitter sweet truth.
Once you turn 18 you are completely alone to manage your emotional and physical health. Even younger than this age, children are able to go to the doctor without a loved one and be prescribed medication.
Once you turn 18, regardless of your state of mental health you are given the option of privacy and consent for your loved ones, next of kin, parents to be told anything by the Doctor or health facility. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency you are the only person spoken to and your health care is based upon their observations of you and your answers – solely.
To many reading this, you may think well yes because I am an adult thats the way it should be. For a moment, put your own opinion and ego aside.
If you are truly in a mental health crisis or experiencing negative symptoms with mental health – are you in your right mind to know you need help!? There are some people who could say yes to this. There is a lot more people who think they would know when they need help but unfortunately they do not.
How many of us have heard someone say “I Am Fine!” But you compassionately know deep down they are not fine.
Fast Facts about Mental Illness
Who is affected?
- Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
- In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
- Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures.
- Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
- About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).
How common is it?
- By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
- Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
- Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
- Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
- Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
- The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.
(Source – https://cmha.ca/about-cmha/fast-facts-about-mental-illness)
What needs to change in my opinion?
- Children need to be educated that its normal to talk about emotional and physical feelings. Encourage them to go to a loved one and that there truly are no stupid questions. The importance of having someone you can trust and knowing that if you speak up your voice will be heard. Keeping lines of communication open in a positive – kid friendly way within the home.
- Teachers encouraging children vs condemning on what they can do and supporting those students to grow and flourish.
- Allowing loved ones and/or family members to be involved in mental health care.
- Educating people on why its crucial to have a loved one you trust – no matter what – as an emergency contact with your doctor which could be accessible on your ohip profile. Someone who if you were in a mental health crisis or your loved on believed you to be in danger, could be involved in treatment as well as assessment of your well-being.
- Nature knows – use Holistic options before pharmaceuticals
From my experience personally and with loved ones – millions of dollars could be saved from our health care costs by allowing family members to be involved in treatment. It is the loved ones who regularly see the person, loved ones who may be the ones who are noticing a difference, loved ones who once all the ‘treatment’ by the medical professional has come to an end – are there for the person, medical professionals, with all due respect, evaluate a person based on that exact moment –
The frequencies in our body and how we live our life, emotions of feeling happy, sad and every thing in between affect our frequencies by raising or lowering. The lower our frequencies are in our body, our health begins to be affected physically.
Is it a slippery slope? Truly it is. But not that long ago so was assisted suicide for those with incurable medical conditions. Now this is an option within our society. So I believe things can and should change. There must be a compassionate care clause that allows concerned family members and loved ones to help someone they love who is in need. Because the truth of the matter is… we simply cannot do this alone!