If the word mental makes you uncomfortable or hurts your feelings, that’s ok. We want you to feel uncomfortable about the state of mental healthcare in Newfoundland and Labrador and across the country.
We should all feel uncomfortable about long wait times, lack of resources and stigma and understanding. We’re reclaiming the word; reminding everyone that if we get into a war of words, the whole point gets lost.
In 1990, in New York City four people started what we now know as Queer Nation. Use of the word queer was considered controversial at first, but now its reclamation and empowerment is a success.
A word can have a lot of power. We can bury it and allow it to strengthen stigma, or we can reclaim it and use it for good. So, no, we’re not trying to hurt your feelings. We’re trying to normalize a word so it doesn’t hurt anymore.
THE STORY SO FAR
Last year there were more than 12,000 calls to the mental health crisis line and 600 from people contemplating or attempting suicide.
In Newfoundland and Labrador it can take years to get access to publicly-funded psychiatric and psychological care, once a referral is made from a family physician.
A PERSONAL CONNECTION
Amelia Curran, who copes with depression and anxiety, heard stories of many of her peers waiting years for diagnosis and treatment and decided that wasn’t good enough. She became a mental health advocate and began working with a small committee of like-minded people; including Roger Maunder who helped her shoot the celebrity-studded ThisVideo.ca to reduce stigma and raise awareness.
PARTNERSHIPS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE
As a result of Curran’s partnerships with Maunder, the Mental Health Coalition, local politicians and Dc Design House, there has already been progress and notable successes on the mental health front.
An all-party committee of the House of Assembly was established to address mental health issues in a non-partisan way. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has unveiled a new emergency response team in a mobile crisis unit to provide immediate services to those in crisis, and launched a digital campaign to create understanding of mental health issues.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
A logo, T-shirts, business cards, website and newsletter have been created, which will disseminate news, inform people about the campaign, raise awareness of mental health issues, and collect real stories of those affected directly and indirectly by mental illness.
When you sign up for the newsletter, you immediately receive a video message from spokeswoman Amelia Curran encouraging you to tell your story and to share the message with anyone you think could use it.
Additionally, Amelia and Roger are working together to create a documentary, which will highlight mental health stigmas, raise awareness and understanding, and encourage appropriate funding and resources for mental health care in Newfoundland and Labrador and across Canada.
In Canada 500,000 people will call in sick to work this week because they can’t cope.
It’s mental that 46 per cent of people believe mental illness is an excuse for poor behaviour.
It’s mental that 12,000 calls were made to the crisis help line in Newfoundland and Labrador alone this year, because they had nowhere else to turn.
These things should make your more uncomfortable than the word Mental.
Our organization isn’t bureaucratic. There are four of us. We are part of committees and boards, but this initiative is as grassroots as it gets.
It’s Mental started as a small group of people who gathered around my kitchen table. We are people who have been diagnosed with mental illness. We are people who support those who have been diagnosed with mental illness.
We are people. And we want to see the end of stigma and negativity related to our mental health status.
We are individuals. We can do what we want. We want to change the system that allows those suffering mental illnesses to fall through the cracks. So let’s do this.
If I, Amelia Curran, fail in managing my mental illness, there is nothing there to catch me, and that scares me. I want you to know that you are not alone, and right now it’s scary, but we can fix this.
In September we are holding an It’s Mental event in every province and points North. In the meantime, tell us what’s happening, tell us what can change, tell us your story and we’ll do this together.
Sincerely, (admittedly, a little idealistic, but what’s so wrong with that);