April 28, 2016 

People can suffer from mental health issues at any age or stage of life.

Since my own father struggled with a mental health challenge, I have a first-hand perspective on what it’s like to support a loved one who is going through difficult times.

I appreciate that even on the sunniest spring day, the simple act of getting out of bed in the morning can be too much for some people to bear.

The negative stigma that is associated with having a mental health issue is often the hardest to overcome. Unlike a visible physical illness or ailment, anxiety, depression, bipolar and substance abuse disorders can be hidden deep beneath the surface.

In some cases, individuals who are suffering may hesitate to talk because they fear being judged as weak, sensitive or fragile. They might worry about being discriminated against by their employer. Those who do speak up may be disappointed by a friend’s or family member’s reaction. Being told to cheer up, snap out of it or focus on the positives can be devastating. All too often, people with mental health challenges struggle alone and in silence.

Society can no longer afford to quietly ignore mental health challenges. Across the greater Toronto and Hamilton area (GTHA), it’s estimated that one of every two people in the labour force have experienced a mental health issue. A new report released by advocacy group CivicAction explains how the struggles of 1.5 million of our neighbours also impact our local economy.  

CivicAction estimates that “over the next 10 years, current mental health issues in the GTHA labour force could result in almost $17 billion in lost productivity.” Most disturbingly, the report also notes, “projections suggest that there could be up to 583 suicides in the GTHA this year if past suicide rates continue.”

Here at Burlington Community Foundation, we’re working to shine a light on mental health issues. We recognize that silence is what hurts people the most.

Read the full column here: http://www.insidehalton.com/opinion-story/6515161-time-for-burlington-to-getloud-about-mental-health-issues/

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