The month of January: we start the new year with grand festivities and high hopes, new dreams for the new year. Yet the sky is grey, the snow is a revolting brown and everything that could possibly go wrong in the winter wasteland we call home does seem to go wrong. As time as drags on, we become weary and slumber into a sleep, not wanting to leave it nor talk to friends. Unknowingly, one might have seasonal depression, which is characterized largely by persistent recurring thoughts of negativity and general despair of one’s life over a prolonged period of time.
Mental illness is categorized by ‘abnormal’ behaviour. To determine if it is ‘abnormal’, scientists generally take into account five factors: the culture, personal distress, maladaptivity, whether or not it is dangerous and legal liability. For instance, bipolar disorder, which is characterized by alternating period of euphoria and depression, is considered abnormal; and it can severely affect one’s life.
In Canada, 1 out of 5 Canadians will suffer from a mental illness during their lifetime, but only 20% of children get help. Young adults are the most at risk to develop schizophrenia. Mental illness consequently engenders economic problems like unemployment and decreased productivity. This is a much more serious problem than freezing rain and January snowstorms.
Since 2010, during the month on January on a specified date, Bell promotes mental health awareness in Canada. They want to reduce the negative stigma surrounding it as well as making services more accessible to the population. On January 25th 2017, the national telecommunications company donated five cents to various mental health organizations for every text sent, for every call made, for every #BellCause or #BellLetsTalk on Twitter or Instagram, for every view on their Facebook video and for every use of their Snapchat filter.
Last year, Canadians from coast to coast were able to raise 6.1 million dollars for mental health. In Quebec, establishments such as McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital receive funding to do more research and to provide better services to those afflicted with a mental illness. In total, there were 344 grants last year. The company suggests five ways to ease the difficulties surrounding mental illness, like having a vigilant population of ordinary people who are aware of these issues, and who are there to listen when someone needs it.
Luckily, at Vanier, students are fortunate enough to have access to a wide range of free services. Students can seek help from fellow student volunteers through the Vanier Peer Support Network or can consult a professional counsellor in C-203. All that is left is for you to use them.
Written By: Charlie Tang