Stigma remains as world celebrates Mental Health Day

By Chad Klassen
October 10, 2018 - 5:00pm Updated: October 10, 2018 - 6:33pm

KAMLOOPS — It's World Mental Health Day today, an opportunity to raise more awareness about our mental well-being.

One in five Canadians suffer from a mental illness, including in Kamloops. Medical experts say we've made strides in terms of reducing the stigma around mental illness, but they add there's a long way to go, making World Mental Health Day that much more important. 

"It's important we keep raising awareness about mental health. People do think about mental health issues, do talk about mental health issues more than when I started," said Interior Health's Medical Director for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Paul Dagg. "But we know that, for example, one in three Canadians with a mental health condition get help, which means two out of three don't."

Dagg says stigma and a general lack of knowledge or resources stops people from getting the help they need. 

"One of the primary routes for help is through your family doctor. That's the first place to go," said Dagg. "Agencies like the Canadian Mental Health Association can help as well. But that's the gateway. We have in Kamloops coordinated community mental health services through IHA that people can turn to as well."

Dagg notes mental health issues cost the Canadian economy up to $50 billion a year. This week alone, it's estimated about 500,000 Canadians will miss work due to their mental health condition. 

Christa Mullaly from CMHA Kamloops encourages people to listen to their body and reach out when something's wrong. 

"We know when something's up, right, be it physical health or emotional health," she said. "I think it's important for us to recognize that and reach out."

Dagg adds that if people ignore their mental well-being, it could have devastating impacts on their physical health.

"Untreated depression, for example, increases the risk of cardiac illness, a whole range of other illnesses. Even treated mental illness often shortens life, so untreated mental illness is even more substantial of an issue."

For more information on mental health, you can visit Interior Health

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