Since 2000, mental health issues – depression, specifically – have been a part of my life. At that time I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I have been relatively fortunate in the series of events that have made up the past twelve years, in that I have discovered and built coping mechanisms – the support of family and friends (and eventually, the ability to speak openly with them about my situation), cognitive therapy and mindfulness techniques such as meditation, exercise like rock climbing and yoga, and judicious use of medication. I have been able to get to a point, now, where I am happy with my life, and for the past few years something in the back of my mind has been telling me that this is something I can do – take my experiences and use my knowledge to help others. The catalyst for action, for me, was a day of awareness sponsored by Bell Canada in February 2012, with the theme “Let’s Talk” – i.e., start removing the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. I wrote a blog post about my experiences and thoughts, spent about six hours deciding if I would actually post it, did, and had about 200 hits that day. On June 12, 2012 I spoke at Ignite Waterloo about this issue as well. If those of us who *can* talk about it don’t, who will? We have to start the conversation. Here is the recording of my talk:
Stephanie Rozek – That’s How the Light Gets In (audio only)
What I Want to Do
From my post: For several years now, I’ve had a niggling feeling that I wanted to do something about it. One of the issues I’ve noticed is the lack of centralized information. I’ve watched a friend visit the emergency room many times because there was nowhere else to go. I’ve watched the safety net hold her for a few days, and then disappear. It can be extremely hard to find continuity of care, particularly for those marginalized in our society and who don’t have access to an extended health care plan, who can’t afford weekly counselling sessions at $100 each. Doctors don’t have time to follow up properly. I feel things are changing, but we’re not there yet.
One of the projects I’d like to do is develop a local online community to support mental health initiatives. i.e.:
A resource site where people can go to find help – one of the biggest issues when you are suffering from depression is not knowing what to do, where to go, and not having the energy to try to find the answers.
I haven’t done it yet due to lack of time and funding. It will still get done at some point, but I’m not sure how. I’d love to hear your ideas.
UPDATE: Shortly after posting this I became aware of the newly-launched ementalhealth.ca, a resource site for people to find local support organizations in their community. I don’t believe it is the full solution but it is a good start. As a result I am not actively working on this project right now but am open to discussing this matter with anyone who is interested, speaking to groups, or helping in whatever way I can.
*Where to Go for Help*
I would be completely remiss if this post didn’t have at least a quick list of places to go for help. First off, if you feel you or someone you know may be in danger of harming themselves, *please* tell someone. A friend, family member, a doctor, call 911 or visit the emergency room of your local hospital. You are not alone and it’s ok to feel however you are feeling. You don’t have to do it alone.
- mindyourmind.ca is a great site for youth with mental health issues. They have a very comprehensive page on finding immediate help.
- Canadian Mental Health Association has information and resources for dealing with mental health issues. Find your local office here.
- suicideprevention.ca has a list of crisis centres by province in Canada
- Waterloo Region Hospitals
- Finally, please feel free to drop me a note as well