Mental health stigma is still very real ~ Accessibility is not the only problem.




I was interviewed by CBC a few weeks ago on my thoughts around the recent Federal budget announcements for mental health, prior to the Covid outbreak.


I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you about this and hear your thoughts as well.


While it was nice to see more of a spotlight on mental health coming from various levels of government, I would argue it doesn’t go far enough. The underlying stigma and attitudes around mental health are what really need to change.  


Our culture and social context have a major influence on people and we know many people don’t seek help if they feel judged by their community. We desperately need a more proactive system, a culture that treats mental health no different than physical health.


We know that mental health challenges do not discriminate, and any one of us could be the next one seeking support. Contrary to popular belief, mental health issues are not only connected to poverty and addiction and socio-economic issues.


The reality is that we all struggle in different ways from time to time and need varying degrees of support for our mental wellbeing. There's also a lot of talk on improving accessibility. While that is one important factor, it goes much deeper.

Our Friday drop-in counselling clinic is a good example of this. It's completely free, it happens every week without exception and there is no appointment needed.


We have never turned anyone away and we never have more than a handful of people reach out or show up to speak to a therapist, and sometimes we have no one at all show up.


So don’t fool yourself into thinking the reason why up to 40% of people don’t seek help for their mental health is due to lack of access to services or the inability to pay for them. The problem goes much deeper and is much more complex.


Every day we, as a team, work hard to remove barriers to accessing mental health support by reducing stigma and increasing practical and financial accessibility.


What we really need is a change in the culture around mental health and what it means to ask for help. Please join us in speaking up about these issues, have open conversations and be vulnerable with those you trust. Mental health impacts us all.


Hit reply to share your thoughts on this! Can't wait to hear from you.


~ Laura

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© 2018 by Laura Gatien, M.SW. Proudly created by LCWD.