Brick by Brick, Things are Changing
Mental health is a topic that’s gradually permeating the world via social media, bridging the gaps between countries and continents. That’s an incredibly good thing, since people from across the world get to see, hear and share what they’re going through and compare how things are addressed both in a preventative, holistic perspective and where treatment of various types is concerned.
Yes – we have a long way to go toward a deeper global sense of understanding, empathy and causal factors for challenges related to mental health (and promoting good mental health), but the more we collectively begin to open our eyes and hearts to these realities across the world, the more we’ll build a movement that will have politicians, entrepreneurs, advocates and governments listening.
The Darkness Taught Me The Most
Looking back, I’m grateful for the scary and sobering journey I experienced in the mental health system, starting with my first visit to a clinic after a horrible anxiety attack in 2010. I had no idea it would evolve into something much more serious with my 2011 suicide attempt (my Brother Ryan had killed himself 3 years earlier), or that I’d need to commit myself to the local hospital’s mental health unit roughly 8 months later in January of 2013, or the fact that I’d find myself on 9 medications over 3 years, but it all proved to be a crash course on the mental health system here in Canada, one that would end up giving my life new purpose. I could never have known that I’d be sitting here in June 2018 having signed a book deal and built a social media platform that has a following of nearly 2 million people.
…this is so much bigger than me, and I feel my Brother Ryan looking down, cheering me on in this, as with countless others impacted in some way, shape or form where mental health is concerned. Heck – all of us deal with mental health (and illness) on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not. Your family history, your co-workers, your government officials, your teachers and those around you – all are connected to the concept of mental health and human struggles in society. It touches ALL of us.
People often ask me “how can I help you in your mission to bring global mental health awareness to greater levels, Jeff?” – I don’t have a cookie-cutter answer for everyone, though I suppose this might be a good start:
Keep doing your best in your own life and make sure to be open with yourself and others (and that can take courage and tact) when it comes to mental health. Yes, it can be a scary, uncomfortable subject to talk about, but being brave and addressing it with compassion and curiosity is incredibly important – it may even be life-saving, as it was in my case. I can still remember just how afraid, embarrassed and ashamed I felt when I walked into my local hospital’s emergency room for the first time in 2011 and had to tell the female nurse that “I need help – I’m suicidal.” – Speaking up scared the shit out of me, but nothing could have been more important, as I look back in hindsight.
I might not be here today, living out my dreams, if I wouldn’t have asked for help that time and on several other occasions. That’s the bottom-line.
Now I’m on a mission to join forces with others in this realm and reach millions of people for the greater good. That’s a ripple effect that will impact many and will inspire others to “take up the torch” and also stand up for such a globally important cause.