Being healthy includes mental health

Times-Herald Editorial Staff
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One in five Canadians struggle with a mental illness.

Clara Hughes has become an advocate for the need to shatter the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourage conversation about mental health. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

That is a staggering statistic and could include one of your family members or a friend who is hurting in silence.

Six-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes was recently in Moose Jaw as part of Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk.

She spoke to hundreds of people in Wakamow Valley about her battle with depression.

“The stigma is something we created,” she told the Times-Herald. “It is something that we allow to live and we can make it disappear by our actions, our attitudes and our ability to have compassion and patience with people that are struggling.”

On Monday, she visited Peacock Collegiate where she shared her story and how, despite winning Olympic medals, she isolated herself from those that cared about her wellbeing.

Hughes is doing her Big Ride across Canada, which began March 14 in Toronto, to raise awareness about mental illness and to empower Canadians to understand what mental health is and how they can support others.

Bell Let’s Talk Day, which fell in January, was just the start of this year's efforts to shatter the stigma surrounding mental illness and Hughes doing this ride brings even more exposure to the topic.

There shouldn’t be a stigma when talking about mental health. People shouldn’t feel weak if they are going through a difficult time or if they are severely depressed or have another mental disease.

Hughes was able to accept the illness, which transformed her life, made her stronger and allowed her to find happiness.

“(I am) proud to say that what I thought was a weakness is part of the fabric that makes me, me,” she said.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80 per cent of the people who are affected.

More people need to join the conversation and less shaming needs to occur in the workplace, school classrooms and in the home.

There is nothing wrong with anyone that has depression, or any other mental illness.

Being healthy is not only about exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep — it also includes mental health.

When we support human rights and help everyone take part in our communities, it improves everyone’s wellbeing.

Hughes struggled for a long time, but if she has the power to change her situation, so can others.

If you are, or someone you know is, in a crisis, go to the local hospital or family doctor. Kids Help Phone is also available at 1-800-668-6868. The Five Hills Health Region mental health line is 306-692-4240.

Don’t suffer in silence.

All Times-Herald editorials are written by its editorial staff.

Organizations: Big Ride, Times-Herald, Canadian Mental Health Association

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Wakamow Valley, Canada Toronto

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