Silence is not always golden

Open up discussions about mental health

Mental health awareness day has come and gone.

But, unfortunately, issues around mental health have not.

Mental health issues are like dark clouds that may suddenly, without warning hover over individuals, families and friends.

They are dark clouds that are filled with a despair that, many times, goes beyond understanding.

Depression has many varied causes. It can run in families, but it is not related to someone’s ethnic background, level of education, how much money he or she makes, or his or her relationship status. It can affect people from all walks of life and, although teens may struggle with depression, it can affect all ages.

Social Anxiety Disorder (also called Social Phobia) is another mental health issue that occurs when certain social or performance situations are avoided due to fear of being judged. In extreme situations the person with social anxiety disorder has difficulty living a normal life and feels completely alone, lonely and isolated.

Anxiety and depression are only two mental health issues. The list is endless and, often, very misunderstood.

However, in the big picture, perhaps understanding is not as important as accepting. People who suffer from illnesses such as cancer or multiple sclerosis or diabetes are not judged or criticized because they have had the misfortune of being sick.

Often a wall of silence shrouds mental illness. And, sometimes, people are critical and suggest the person who is suffering should simply pull themselves together.

So how does one break through this barrier? How do caring and compassionate individuals actually make a difference?

Being quick to listen and slow to speak seems like a reasonable suggestion that could be applied to any level of conversation. But, when someone is struggling with depression, anxiety or, even suicidal thoughts, being a good listener is crucial.

And, even though it is so easy to think ahead and try to fix the problem, it is far better to simply be there, to listen and to reflect on what the person is saying.

Listening without judging is a skill that may not be easy, but it is so important.

Mental health is a slippery slope and it can lead to dangerous consequences.

Of course, medication and professional help are crucial aides to help provide tools for individuals who are suffering from mental health issues.

But what about dealing with the stresses of everyday life? On the surface people with mental health issues appear to have it all together, to be able to cope, to be strong.

But, if the veneer they have surrounded themselves with should crack leaving their emotions raw and exposed, family and friends need to arm themselves not only with love and compassion, but with knowledge so they can support them and let them know they are not alone.

There is a wealth of information available on the Internet and there are groups and organizations that focus on mental health issues.

Being more open about mental health is important at any time of year.

And, one can be sure, that somewhere out there is someone who is struggling with an illness that is little understood and is not visible to the naked eye.

Being ready to not only talk, but more importantly, to listen could create a ripple effect that will truly make a difference.

Being a friend, not judging, showing kindness, listening and accepting does not require specialized education or training.

It simply requires paying attention, being aware, and being there!

That’s all any of us can do!

Just Posted

Plastic bags no longer accepted for recycling

Residents requested to keep plastic bags out of blue bags

Alberta RCMP and crime watch groups sign agreement

Rural crime watch groups to be eyes and ears for RCMP on a provincial level

Nazarene Church could appeal to SDA board

Illuminated sign at church could be revisited by SDA

RCMP chase suspect through Breton, Rimbey areas

Drayton Valley RCMP lay charges following pursuit of stolen vehicle Feb. 16

Reward offered to find man charged in 2006 murder

RCMP are offering up to $5000 for information leading to the arrest of Kevin Brown

WATCH: Red Deer celebrates one year out from 2019 Canada Games

Community gathers at Great Chief Park to commemorate Games milestone

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

BC Wine Institute to take legal action against Alberta

The BC Wine Institute to seek injunction to protect B.C. wineries from Alberta wine ban

Trudeau reiterates denial of Sikh separatists in cabinet, condemns extremism

“We will always stand against violent extremism, but we understand that diversity of views is one of the great strengths of Canada.”

Canada wins gold in men’s ski cross

Leman earns redemption with ski cross gold; Homan out early

Trump says more must be done to protect children

In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics.

Most Read