Introduction to the October 8 mental illness awareness feature

It is Mental Illness Awareness Week.

It is likely that you have been touched by mental illness, be it directly or through the suffering of friends and family.

Being aware, however, is not a matter of having something affect us. It is a matter of keeping knowledge present in our day-to-day activities and decision-making.

That there are stigmas associated with mental illness is not up for debate. That mental illness takes an excruciating toll on Canadian society is a well-documented fact.

Sometimes it is necessary to state and restate the obvious: as our tribulations are played out it is easy to lose track of the minds behind matters.

Do not be afraid to reach out if you desire assistance. Want and need are easily confused when our mental state comes into play.

Do not be afraid to offer support. Whether you can speak from experience, or listen with an earnest desire to help, the relationships that lend structure to our lives are crucial.

Mental illness is as diverse as its sufferers. The focus of this feature has landed upon depression and anxiety because our contributors felt best able to speak to these topics.

This feature contains discussion of some of the resources available on campus. Katy MacKinnon summarizes places on campus intended to serve as supportive spaces for those in need. Dana Hatherly examines the newly launched UM for U campaign, Active Minds, aimed at ensuring University of Manitoba students can rely on the backing of their peers. An editorial from an old Manitoban illustrates the perserverance required in the struggle against mental illness.

The crux of addressing mental illness is in the acknowledgement of its impact in our lives. Four Manitoban staff have provided personal pieces, and exemplary honesty. In the art of Bradly Wohlgemuth and Carolyne Kroeker, and in the stories of Tom Ingram and Mike Still, I hope readers find succor and inspiration.

I opened my introduction with the disheartening assertion that mental illness is common to most of our lives. I will close with a request.

Release preconceptions about the nature of the difficulties those suffering from mental illness face, be it yourself or another; the experience is unique, the processes of healing are individualized, the stigmas are exacerbating barriers we should all endeavour to dismantle.

 

ARTICLES

Mental health resources at the University of Manitoba – Katy MacKinnon

Changing the conversation about mental health at the University of Manitoba – Dana Hatherly

Anxiety study – by Bradley Wohlgemuth

End the romanticization of mental illness – by Carolyne Kroeker

My anticlimactic trip to the shrink – by Tom Ingram

The ongoing mental battle with depression – Mike Still