EDITORIAL: Your courage is making a difference

A monumental shift in the way mental illness is perceived is being created by ordinary people.

It’s been a dark, wet start to 2016 and the cloud of mental illness looms.

A South Surrey mother is pained about her adult son, who is wracked with the demons of depression and addiction. Neither she nor he can find relief in the tangle of mental health services currently on offer.

Maureen Kerr, whose letter appears in the Feb. 10 print edition of The Leader, wonders when the inadequate system will be fixed. When will there be enough help for the sheer number of people who need it?

Meanwhile, Surrey’s Samantha Aho fights a quiet, sometimes lonely battle with depression. Even with medication and unconditional support from her parents, she says many of her days are filled with struggle.

She’s certainly not alone. It’s difficult to imagine an issue as far-reaching as mental illness. As Samantha succinctly puts it, we either have it, know someone who does, or both.

Its presence permeates large swaths of lives. Blogger Kristyl Clark’s latest column reflects on the impact a sick father had on an entire family – and the generation that follows.

There are so many stories.

Over the years, this newspaper has delved numerous times into the despair of mental illness, talking to policy makers, medical experts, front line workers and sufferers, and shining a light on the health care system’s often shocking failings.

Today, while B.C. is still a long way from providing the support that’s required, positive strides have been made.

New reasearch projects and facilities are on the horizon (a $7-million child and teen psychiatric unit opens next year at Surrey Memorial Hospital), and many corporations and organizations no longer shy away from acknowledging what has been the elephant in the room – shrouded in shame – for decades.

Increasingly, incrementally, it’s becoming easier to talk about mental illness.

This is a monumental shift created by ordinary people like Maureen and Samantha and Kristyl, who are not swayed by the unkind, outdated and ineffective manifesto to suck it up and stay silent.

Let’s keep this conversation going. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

 

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