12 Months of Mental Health – The Set-Up

Hello and welcome to 2017!

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It seems that people really did not like 2016. True, it was a bad year for celebrity deaths (#TearsForPrincessLeia), but otherwise it was just another set of 12 months, 365 days, and too many weird celebrity baby names.

Anyway, it feels like we started the year like this:

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And ended like this:

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But it’s okay! For better or worse, 2017 is here.

As some of you know, I am deep into my 10 (12,14?) year plan to become a clinical psychologist. There have been many ups and downs in the last near decade of my pursuit, the most persistent being a long struggle with depressive disorders and the most recent being a run-in with severe burn out (oops). Two outcomes were realized (pun intended) in light of these “misfortunes”:

  1. I took an unofficial leave of absence from my program. I now only attend a practicum placement at Catholic elementary schools in Toronto once a week. I spend the rest of my time working on getting physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy! #loveyourself
  2. I am more dedicated than ever to spreading information and awareness of mental health and illness in Canada (only 8 days until Bell Let’s Talk Day!)

In my opinion, we are doing a great job of reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in Canada. However, as someone who personally hides my struggles from various people for fear of judgement/misunderstanding/criticism/unsolicited advice/feigned concern/(insert negativity here), I know we have a long way to go. So, to speed up the journey to stigma free mental health conversations in Canada I have decided to publish a project called:

12 Months of Mental Health

Okay! Let’s do this.

My goal is to shine a spotlight on various mental health challenges for each month of 2017. For example, for January I have set up a piece on addictions. I am fortunate to have various friends, family, and acquaintances who have agreed to help me with this project. Each of these people share my passion for knowledge translation and are sharing with me details about their own experiences and challenges with specific mental disorders.

My hope is that each post will humanize mental health a little bit more. Social psychology taught me that people are much more tolerant of that which they are familiar. For example, a man with a Muslim best friend is more likely to be tolerant of Muslim people in general. I am hoping the same will be true for mental health – maybe if we see that someone with Bipolar Disorder likes the same things as us, or that someone with ADHD does the same sports as our siblings we will see that they are not defined by what they have.

I am going to do my best in these upcoming monthly blog posts to provide information on each of the disorders, spark laugher,  stimulate thought, and most importantly convey understanding. I hope you will join me on this journey and share the posts as much as you are comfortable with.

Up Next: Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders!

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