This week, May 2-8, is the 65th annual Mental Health Week put on by the Canadian Mental Health Association. The CMHA is calling on all Canadians to “GET LOUD” for mental health. This is a good thing indeed.
When you hear the fact that this has been 65 years running, it’s powerful. Not many initiatives last 65 years, and it really puts into perspective just how far we’ve come, but also how resistant to change our society truly is. After 65 years, most campaigns for medical conditions look to raise funds and awareness for research into new areas than can augment treatment protocols or develop remedies. Mental health? This organization is still trying to break the stigma, let alone make productive strides in treatment methods.
Perhaps one of the challenges is that the term “mental health” is far too ambiguous. We conjure up stereotypes instead of understanding the everyday application. Here’s another point to consider. May 1-7 also happens to be the North American Occupational Health and Safety Week. Noble cause no doubt. Most people likely imagine a safety sensitive position such as a construction worker, police officer, etc… We certainly apply context to the “safety” component of this initiative, but what about the “health” part? Rather than visualizing injurious incidents in the workplace, how about the individual suffering with clinical depression and the snowball effect for their immediate environment and fellow colleagues? Too often in our economy we base occupational health on things like job satisfaction and how employees manage and cope with emotions. What about the actual holistic health of the organization?
It is not always easy to comprehend either. Consider this hypothetical scenario. A parent lies awake at night wondering how to approach their son or daughter about the considerable signs of depression and anxiety they are witnessing. Significant sleep is lost. Perhaps they had a few drinks to “take the edge off”. The family is worried, stressed and not sure what to do. The next morning they drive into work, but not enough coffee in the world would pick them up to be ready for their shift. The individual is disoriented, tired and their mind is anywhere but the workplace. Do you think the folks at NOAHS would consider this workplace a safe environment that day? What if this individual happened to be an airline pilot or a surgeon? Here, an indirect mental health issue is exposing this workplace environment to an enormous degree of risk.
The point is, mental health affects all of us in different ways, and it’s not always direct or easily understood. But regardless of what we want to believe, it’s real and impactful. And it deserves the attention that other medical issues receive, without organizations needing to campaign for justification of attention.
About Carson McPherson
I am and do many things, but most importantly I am a father of two beautiful young girls and the proud husband to an amazing wife. As you'll see from my blog as time goes on, addiction has played a central role in my family for generations and has become the passion for which I base my work today. Enjoy and engage!