Making Mental Illness Awareness A Life Skill

Written by Oshawa This Week
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Dr. Wendy Stanyon Dr. Wendy Stanyon

If you or someone you know were trying to cope with a mental illness, would you know what to do? Would you know where to find help or how to talk about it?

Although we are making great strides in understanding mental illness, it remains a growing public health concern. One in five Canadians will develop a mental illness in their lifetime and most Canadians know someone who has a mental illness. However, stigma often prevents individuals from seeking help or even talking about their problems. Mental illness is also a growing concern for educational institutions and suicide is the second leading cause of death on post-secondary campuses.

The challenge is to break down the barriers and create an open and comfortable discussion. Canada recently marked Mental Illness Awareness Week. The Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology wants to make the community aware of a free online educational resource called Mindsight (mymindsight.uoit.ca) that promotes awareness of mental illness and provides basic strategies and resources for supporting individuals experiencing a mental health challenge.

Mindsight covers 10 topics: stigma, depression, anxiety, substance use, suicide, self-harm, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, psychosis and trauma. Mindsight highlights the signs and symptoms of common mental illnesses and offers self-help strategies; strategies for helping a friend, colleague, or family member; treatment options; and links to available community resources.

It takes approximately two hours to complete and you don’t have to complete it in one session. There is a short multiple-choice quiz at the end of each section and you are eligible to receive a certificate of completion by selecting the request certificate button.

Mental illness awareness has become an important life skill for everyone. By becoming better informed and talking more openly, we can promote greater understanding and work towards eliminating stigma. Please join me in promoting mental illness awareness and complete Mindsight. By investing just a couple of hours of time, together we can make a difference. Let’s ensure individuals feel able to seek the mental health support and services they need without the fear of being stigmatized.

Dr. Wendy Stanyon is an associate professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, whose research focus is on enhanced mental health/illness literacy, education and awareness. mymindsight.uoit.ca.

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