This week from May 5th-11th is Mental Health Awareness Week. I was lucky enough to be asked as someone with lived experience to give two short talks to employees at Ontario College of Trades as part of their planned events for the week. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a trained public speaker so the level of nervousness I experience (on top of diagnosed general anxiety) is high. However, the cause of mental health advocacy is worth it every. single. time.
Part of what I discuss concerns the fact that I, like so many others, have had past work experiences where the level of understanding about mental health has been much less than desirable. Obviously frustrating when one of the elements that individuals find unhelpful is silence surrounding their experience. Social supports, even professional in nature, help move towards assisting the individual rather than stuffing their issues back into the closet.
It is so very heartening to see organizations and businesses like the Ontario College of Trades take part in these events. It means that the importance of opening up a dialogue surrounding mental health and encouraging additional awareness and supports to be put in place has not been lost in the fray. People at these organizations are striving for change. By bringing in people with lived experience and experts from the medical community, they spread knowledge to those who might not have had it previously.