EDITORIAL: The conversation has to happen more

Nicholas Mercer
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Last week the world lost one of its best-known funny men in Robin Williams.


Compass reporter/photographer Nicholas Mercer.

Addiction and depression took Williams' life. He committed suicide at his San Francisco home.

The world response has been dynamic as people are using this morbid occasion to spark the conversation on mental health and illness.

Unfortunately, this perpetuates a cycle that has society only having that conversation after someone has taken their own life. It only happens if it is revealed they were suffering from a mental illness.

Experts will hop on daytime television, in newspapers and online to say this conversation has to happen more often. People should be talking about mental illness more than they are now.

Talking about it will help make it better, they'll say. The public will get this, and countless other nuances that can help people suffering with diseases like depression and social anxiety, for a couple of weeks.

Then it will quiet down. The public will again pull back and begin to shut things down.

This will happen until the annual Bell Let's Talk event. Then the cycle starts up again.

Now, there are movements that have tried to make this a permanent thing.

Clara Hughes' Big Ride tried to turn the conversation into a year-round thing earlier this year. The Canadian Olympian rode her bike across Canada to raise awareness of mental illness.

But again, that was intermittent at best.

As someone who has suffered from depression, although not clinically diagnosed, it can be a dark place.

You feel shut off from the world and your mind pulls back. You have little desire to interact with people as the negative thoughts that consume you continue to grow in your psyche.

Talking about it helped immensely. Slowly, it started pulling me out of that place and onto a happier frame of mind.

But, there aren't enough people talking about it consistently. That is what we need to change.

The conversation has to be every other week or every other day. It can't just be when someone with a mental illness ends their life.

If a person you know appears to be down and out. They aren't in some sort of 'funk.' They may genuinely need your help.

Talk to them, help them get the aid they deserve. Spark the conversation that they may be afraid to start.

It takes courage to come forward with your problems. Humans, by nature, can be stubborn when it comes to helping themselves.

We like to handle things on our own and we don't want to burden other people with our problems.

However, these problems can be dangerous. So, don't be afraid. The world is ready to help.

Talk and be open. You do not have to lay everything on the table at the same time. You can open up in pieces.

It is going to get better.

— Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbncompass.ca

Organizations: Bell Let, Big Ride, The Compass

Geographic location: San Francisco, Canada, Bay Roberts

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Recent comments

  • Bill
    August 19, 2014 - 11:10

    No it doesn't. He had a physical disease that ruins your life. He chose to end it before it took over. His prerogative. There was no stigma.