Recently I found a whole bunch of little appointment stickers in the middle of the calendar hanging in my kitchen. Yay, stickers! Apparently I’ve been missing out on reminding myself of appointments for the doctor, chiropractor, dentist, and physiotherapist, not to mention appointments for an oil change, insurance renewal, servicing my boat, noting when fishing season starts, and when the pest control company is coming. (OK, so maybe I can’t make use of ALL the stickers.)
I couldn’t help but notice that among the health related appointments there were no mental health appointment reminders. There was no Counselling Session for instance, or Family Therapy Session, or even Meeting with Life Coach. There may be a few reasons why those reminder stickers weren’t created, but I can’t help but think it’s partly because of the stigma that exists regarding talking about mental illness and mental health concerns.
At the beginning of June there was a three day conference held in Ottawa entitled Together Against Stigma, put on by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the World Psychiatric Association Scientific Section on Stigma and Mental Illness. It is heartening to see that time, energy and attention are being devoted to working on eliminating the stigma that does exist for those with mental health concerns of any kind.
We have already come a long way in this area, but there is still more ground to cover. Similar to the shame that is experienced by people when they are dealing with addictions issues, there is still a level of shame regarding other mental health issues like depression and anxiety that prevents us from being able to talk about it more openly.
In an ideal world, there would be stickers for counselling appointments just as there are for all the other ways we care for ourselves and our possessions. Wouldn’t it be freeing to be able to say to someone, “I have a counselling appointment tomorrow”, in the same matter of fact way that we would say, “I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow”?
So I’m going to go put a reminder sticker up for when my swimming pool is being serviced (ideal world, remember?) and hope that we’re on our way to eliminating the stigma that exists regarding mental illness.