June 25, 2019

By JASON MOTA

There is a gap in the Canadian mental health system. This “gap” refers to the unnervingly large percentage of people with mental illnesses who do not receive treatment for – or even an acknowledgement of – their symptoms.

A bad week is an easy thing to shrug off as being nothing more than just a bad week, but knowing when it’s worse than that can mean the difference between feeling better about yourself and developing a permanent case of depression or anxiety. All it takes is a little too much stress and the human mind, which is already swamped with remembering complex social norms and the due dates of school assignments, will reach a breaking point. It will no longer be able to stop worrying, stressing, second-guessing, doubting, hurting or fearing.

According to a study conducted in 2009 by the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, a whopping 90 per cent of people who suffer from depression never seek help. So if you’ve thought recently, even for a moment, that you might be dealing with a minor case of depression, then more than likely, that is the case.

Acknowledgement is the hard part, since it’s easy to deny the possibility if it’s not too severe. This denial is largely thanks to social stigma. For some reason, there’s a subtle, underlying belief that mental illness is a weakness. A stain. No one wants to admit that they’re depressed or traumatized or that they can no longer trust people.

But nobody is super strong. Everyone has a weakness or two, from the strongest fighter to the boniest bookworm. Many people are either compensating for something they don’t want seen or openly struggling with it. There is absolutely no shame in stepping down from the top step, taking a deep breath, and admitting that you need help. The first step to solving a problem is realizing there is one. The only way to feel better is to stop denying your mental illness and seek help. Whether you turn to a friend, sibling, parent or stranger, it matters not, as long as you are able to speak about it.

Conestoga College offers free, confidential counselling services to any student who needs it, for any reason at all – it doesn’t need to be school-related. Every student who is struggling should take full advantage of it.

For more information about counselling at Conestoga, visit www.conestogac.on.ca/counselling-services.

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