By Kevin McCormick
Each year one in five Canadians suffer with a form of mental illness. Illnesses of the mind do not discriminate – anyone of any age can be affected.
This includes yourself, your family, your friends, as well as your colleagues and acquaintances. However, the group most likely to be affected are those aged 15 to 24, with 70 per cent of mental health issues arising during childhood and adolescence.
As the president and vice-chancellor of Huntington University, I am keenly aware of the immense pressure students face as they navigate their studies, part-time jobs and extracurricular activities, which often includes constant comparison to peers online.
When mental health and mood disorders are left untreated, each facet of a person’s life is affected, which can easily lead to depression. Suicide is one of the major causes of death among the student age group (15-24), attributing to 25 per cent of deaths. Therefore, this is not an issue we can afford to ignore.
Despite the recent developments to address mental health issues and generate a more progressive attitude, the stigma surrounding mental illness is still prevalent in our society and derails these advances.
The most effective way to combat this prejudice is to advocate on behalf of mental health initiatives and work to eradicate the troublesome ideology that threatens the wellness of affected individuals. No student should ever have to feel ashamed, isolated or degraded because of the mental illness they experience.
The fear of reaching out to a loved one or seeking counselling often leaves those who are impacted feeling stranded and without any options. The perceived risk of judgement and rejection are too great a burden to bear, leaving many to suffer silently.
Mental health and mood disorders affect us all – either directly or indirectly. That is why it is so important to break down the barriers surrounding this issue. Along with physical health, mental health plays an equally important role in our overall wellness.
Healthy relationships, open lines of communication and understanding can make all the difference for someone who is suffering and feeling alone.
As a community, we need to come together and move in the direction of a more empathetic route to wellness. Collaboration will be the key to success, as with more voices, we can unite in greater numbers to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Huntington University is a proud supporter of the 4th Annual Sudbury Defeat Depression Walk/Run, a community initiative aimed to bring advocacy and increased services for mental health disorders. Funds from the event will help support NISA (Northern Initiative for Social Action), a community-based non-profit organization whose mission is to offer programming, services, and peer support for members of the Greater Sudbury community.
Join us on Saturday, May 27 at the Bell Park Amphitheatre and offer your voice to this important cause.
Dr. Kevin McCormick is the president and vice-chancellor of Huntington University, as well as honorary chair of the 2017 Sudbury Defeat Depression Walk/Run.