It’s been just over a year since I started as a Community Correspondent for Partners for Mental Health. This is a huge accomplishment for me, as it allows me to share my story freely and share my passion for changing the way we view mental health.
For those of you who are unaware, here is a bit about Partners for MH:
Partners for Mental Health, an independent registered charity, is a national organization dedicated to "supercharging" a social movement that will transform the way Canadians think and act towards their own mental health, and towards people living with a mental health problem or illness.
In partnership with others, they will empower and mobilize Canadians to take action that will:
- Encourage people to pay more attention to their own mental health and well-being.
- Positively change attitudes and behaviours towards those living with mental health problems or illnesses.
- Help change policies to improve the mental health system.
- Increase funding for programs, services and research.
The genesis for Partners for Mental Health came from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, which was established in the fall of 2007. The Framework for a Mental Health Strategy for Canada, issued by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, identified an opportunity to catalyze a social movement in support of transformative change for mental health in Canada and the concept of Partners for Mental Health was formed. In November 2010, Partners for Mental Health became an independent registered charity in Canada. Partners for Mental Health operates independently of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and has its own Board of Directors and employees.
As a Community Correspondent, I support the movement through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and blogging about issues that are important to me, as well as the various campaigns that Partners for MH has.
I feel very lucky to be part of the team. Actually, I feel like it was a “meant-to-be” kind of thing. Before I began my role with Partners for MH, I would never even think about talking about my mental health and I was very insecure about mentioning it to someone (even friends and family). Like most Canadians, I felt ashamed and scared. This affected my friendships and work life greatly. I lied when I took a mental health day or tried to cover my depressions with a fake smile to my friends.
Partners for MH has allowed me a kind of freedom and motivation that I’ll never be able to fully explain. The first time I wrote about my mental health on my blog, it was like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I felt free. I felt powerful.
I have learned many things about my own mental health, as well as mental health stigma in Canada just from being a Community Correspondent. I’m no longer insecure and I view my illness as my power, not my weakness. I am not frightened to talk about my illness with friends or family or in the work place. I am a stronger person because of the things I have went through and no one can take that away from me.
I’ve also learned that talking about mental illness is the main way to fight stigma. The more we talk about it like it’s any other chronic illness, the less stigma there will be around it. The more we share our stories, the more others will be willing to come out and share theirs as well. If writing about my story and sharing my struggles and triumphs can encourage others to share theirs, then I will keep writing and writing and writing and sharing.
So, I would like to say thank you to Partners for Mental Health and my fellow Community Correspondents. Not only for the every day things they do to conquer the stigma, but for helping me become a stronger person.