Ever had a day when you didn't feel yourself? I suspect if you are like the vast majority of North Americans (say 99 percent) the answer is yes.
So here's the problem.
Most of us never do anything about it. We get on with our day rather than asking ourselves what is up with our mental health. We don't stop to ask ourselves why we are feeling the way we are and what we can do about it to make it better. But if we woke up with a bad back, while we may avoid the doctor, we would take aspirin to help manage the pain.
So why don't we pay attention to our mental health?
There are many reasons: fear, shame, confusion and a culture that does not support talking about it (let alone providing the necessary level of treatment, support, and funding). We don't want to talk about it because it is hard for both the person suffering and those around them. And yet almost all of us have had a day or days when we woke up feeling stressed, anxious, nervous, depressed, agitated. And it can be much worse for those dealing with schizophrenia, bipolar, bulimia and addictions.
It's time to acknowledge that mental health affects us all. We need to address it in the workplace, in schools, in community centers, on hockey and football teams and in your very own kitchen.
The key to outing the issue and dealing with it (be it therapy, support, medication) is to make it safe for people to talk about it.
That's why we created "Not Myself Today," a national campaign on behalf of Partners for Mental Health to encourage people to acknowledge that we have all had days when we didn't feel like ourselves. We are using this insight to engage Canadians (and Americans) and help them recognize that this is their issue.
We want to mobilize as many people as possible to take a pledge of support to demonstrate to themselves, their families and to our politicians that this issue requires action now.
There is much we can and must do individually and collectively if we are going to turn the tide on what is likely the biggest health issue facing North America today. And it starts with you.
Ready to take the pledge?
Follow Phillip Haid on Twitter: www.twitter.com/philhaid