I was getting ready for work in the afternoon, when I suddenly heard my Hakuna Matata ringtone go off. I was expecting one of my parents to be calling because they have yet to figure out this whole “texting thing,” and let’s be serious, who still calls their friends? I picked up my phone and saw my friend’s number on the caller ID. I picked up and asked her what’s up? Turns out she was nauseous, dizzy, and had a massive headache. I drove her to the hospital to get checked out and later she was diagnosed with vertigo.
She called me because she needed help. I’m not a doctor, heck; I’m not even a good driver. But she needed someone to be there for her and I surely wasn’t going to tell a nauseous, dizzy person “I can’t, I’m getting ready for work”, “are you sure you’re not just hungry?”, or “maybe if you leave now you can catch the bus”. No decent human being would ever say that. So why isn’t that our usual response to those who tell us that they are feeling down for no reason? Or that they are so stressed out that they can’t sleep? Now I know that most of us aren’t psychologists or therapist but “it’s all in your head” or “just get over it” should not be our response. You don’t tell a friend that just broke his arm to “sleep it off”, although you would probably try to write something witty and embarrassing on their cast afterwards like “crash test dummy”, or my personal favourite “give me a break” (if you didn’t laugh at that one, I’m sorry, we can’t be friends).
I’ve been working as a Mental Health Research and Implementation Assistant. That’s just a fancy way of saying that I Google stuff for money. Pretty sweet gig, huh? And yes, I’ve gotten desperate enough to look past the third page of search results. I’ve researched things pertaining to mental health policies, illnesses, helplines, community resources, health models, inspirational videos, different campaigns and projects, cool stories, and pictures of puppies. (That last one was just for pure personal interest.) Most of my research has led me to the same conclusion; the problem with the mental health stigma is us, within society!
The second you plopped out of the womb, BAM, along with the placenta and your goo-covered, 7 pounds and 12 ounce body, also came out the stigma of mental health. We should be able to openly talk about any sort of struggles we have whether it’s a physical, mental, or even spiritual. To find out more about mental health and how you can get help or help a friend, visit Redeemer’s Mental Health page!
About the author: John is a recent graduate of Redeemer’s Health Sciences program (Class of 2016) and led the Health Care Club while a student.