Erasing the stigma of mental illness

            When someone gets cancer, or has a heart attack, everyone wants to help. When someone is diagnosed with schizophrenia, or bipolar illness, or even depression, everyone stays away.
            That's the stigma of mental illness, the subject of the speakers at last Thursday's club meeting. "Our goal is to remove the stigma from mental illness," April Butler and Eimert Koops said. "Mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain."
            April spoke about mental illness in her own family; Eimert spoke about his own experience. “The more I open up about my own situation,” they both said, “the more others open up to me.”
            But the message from both was the same – recovery IS possible. Mental illness affects about one in five Canadians directly; indirectly, it affects everyone. Fifty percent of people with a mental illness have never seen a doctor about it. Depression is, perhaps, the most common mental illness. Eighty percent of those who experience depression can respond favourably to treatment, but 90% of those people don’t know how to get help.
            The way to deal with mental illness is not to ignore it, or to deny it, but to get it out into the open and get treatment for it.
            The group they represented, Mental Health Individual & Family Support, used to be called the Schizophrenia Society, but has recently been renamed because schizophrenia is now seen as only a narrow band on the whole spectrum that encompasses mental health and illness. There are no hard-line divisions between one disorder and another.

Other club news

  • September 2nd at 6:30 pm, Tessa Derksen (a professional fundraiser) will lead a session on potential new ways of fundraising. The whole club is invited to brainstorm options for future fundraisers. Location to be announced.
  • Art Walk is September 12 and 13. Please remember to sign up for shifts serving food from the Rotary trailer.
  • Norm Letnick will be speaker on October 15. Patty Garrett says it’s bring a friend day.