Did you hear what’s happening up in Canada today?
No not another record snowfall, but a day dedicated to raising awareness for mental health issues.
As a proud Canuck, I’m thrilled about Bell’s multimillion-dollar charitable initiative focused on reducing stigma and supporting both research and mental health-related programs.
Six-time Olympic medalist – in both the winter and summer games no less – Clara Hughes is the official spokesperson for this cause.
And according to the cyclist and speed skater, the feedback she’s received from speaking out about mental illness has topped her Olympic records.
“Five times of being an Olympian, I felt the response of an Olympics coming back to Canada and how many people connected to what I did in sport, winter and summer, and in the last year the response of this campaign, it trumps anything I ever felt at all the Olympics combined,” Hughes told CTV.
The athlete goes on to talk about her passion to end the stigma and shame of mental health issues.
“We are all connected to somebody, if it’s not us (going through it ourselves). It’s something that is an issue for every single person . . . and I’m really grateful that I have a chance to be a part of this again,” she shared.
After publicly coming forward with her own battle with depression, Hughes hopes to get the conversation flowing about mental health issues.
“Sport that consumed me for over two decades . . . is now gone. Now it’s just me,” she shared in a blog post. “No pressure, no expectations, no need to be fast, good, strong or to even improve. Yet I can’t let go of this idea that I always need to be more than I am. And it is eating me alive.”
According to Health Canada, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. The Canadian Medical Association, meanwhile, reports that only about half of Canadians tell a friend or co-worker if they had a family member who struggled with mental health.
And although it’s difficult to understand the full scope of mental health issues of our neighbors down south, the statistics are similar in the United States.
“The only reason I (shared my story) is to try to help other people,” Hughes added. “I really hope that enough people connect to this so, collectively, we can make this happen … I want to erase stigma.”
“When it comes to mental health, people think they just have to be stronger,” Bri shared, adding that she wants to reach out to those “suffering in silence.”
She added: “I am willing to put myself out there, and know that [my son] will see this story one day, in the hopes that I can help women out there also struggling with postpartum depression.”
Please share your story in the comments and help shatter the shame of mental health issues.