October 1st marks the first day of Mental Illness Awareness Week in Canada.
It is great that as a society we are acknowledging something that has been buried for so many years. With the Canadian Mental Health Association quoting that one in five Canadians deal with mental illness, it is not a small problem that is going to go away any time soon.
The fact that organizations are educating people on this important message is amazing progress. I do have a couple concerns about the subject being marked on a calendar to discuss, when it is an important topic to discuss year round, and with all the “special” days and weeks on the calendar in Canada, is the message even getting through?
On the Canadian government website, there is listed eleven separate health care related awareness days/weeks listed in October alone. In fact, there are 94 separate categories on the Canadian Government calendar of health promotion days. With 52 weeks in a year, there is considerable overlap, and I’m sure if I did some digging, I’m sure I’d find a few more to add to the bedlam.
I don’t say this to take away from any of the issues. They are all important, especially to sufferers of the illness/disease in question. I bring this up to point out that none of the illnesses covered get much in the way of time to shine. A week where an issue is talked about, and people are taught prevention and treatment is better than no time in the light at all. In today’s society where we are all bombarded everyday by ads and news, how much of the message actually seeps through?
I’m going to guess, not much. I know that because of the sheer amount of crap commercials on TV, when Lynn and I do watch something, we record it, then fast forward through the commercials. I know we are not alone in that. So how effectively is that money being spent?
As someone who has been affected by mental illness for many years, I applaud the government and private organizations that are bringing mine, and all these issues, into the light. Knowing that these campaigns occur help me feel a little less alone.
Why can’t we do better as a society?
With everything that the kids are being taught in schools in this day and age, why are serious mental and physical issues ignored? Why is it being left to the doctors and other medical professionals to counsel people once they already have the illness, when reaching the kids in school could help prevent a lot of these issues in the first place?
I don’t know. I do know that until government deems it a high enough priority to do just that, it’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen until we push our government to do just that.
Until then, all the sufferers will have to wait for their turn in the light.