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ZYTARUK: When revealing vulnerability reveals courage

Courage like this goes a long way toward de-stigmatizing mental health issues
Black Press Media file photo

So let it be written…

I’m not made of granite, are you?

While some people have been weathering this pandemic better that most, I daresay most people’s mental health has steadily been chipped away over the past two years and counting by the onslaught of new COVID-19 variants, social isolation, annoyance with people who are less than considerate concerning the safety of others and, let’s face it, fear.

This column pays tribute to a guy I don’t know named Gabe Liosis, who until very recently was president of the Simon Fraser Student Society. I don’t know if he was a good president or not. But when he gave his notice of resignation, to be effective January 24, 2022, at 5 p.m., he didn’t pass the torch with a big speech about how he’s moving on to be a hero somewhere else, which is the explanation often proffered by someone resigning in a public way.

His parting gift was courageously admitting, openly in a public statement, that his resignation resulted from his struggles with his mental health. Not that his awesomeness is needed elsewhere, that he has new challenges to conquer, that he has more personal greatness to share on distant shores. Rather, plain, simple vulnerability.

How refreshing.

“My journey with the Simon Fraser Student Society started in Spring 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was entering our lives. As the world was grappling with these unprecedented times, I – like many people my age were – began to grapple with deep mental health challenges associated with social isolation and burnout, which worsened over the next 21 months,” Mr. Liosis revealed in a press release issued by the SFSS.

“What I am experiencing is severe anxiety and depression,” he shares. “It is safe to say that I have not prioritized my mental health in the way that it needs to be prioritized.”

READ ALSO: B.C.’s mental health crisis is bad and getting worse

It’s courage like this that goes a long way toward de-stigmatizing mental health issues, to which we are all potentially susceptible. By sharing, he is telling people they are not alone. I say good on you, Gabe, and may your journey to getting better get better with each passing day.

This pandemic has been rough and tough on us all. Please know, if you are anxious, depressed, feeling in a fog or the need to cry out loud, know you are not alone. Screeds of helpful information is available. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health might be a good place for some to start, at

The Fraser Health Crisis Line, as its motto “Help could be just a call away” indicates, is there for all who need it. That’s immediate, free and confidential support 24 hours a day, at 1-877-820-7444 or 604-951-8855.

So let it be done.

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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