Addressing the stigma of mental health

Video / March 31, 2014

Transcript

Rick Mercer

Hello I’m Rick Mercer.

I am very proud of our men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces, past and present, and the work they do protecting Canada at home and abroad.

Many Canadians struggle with mental health problems but members of the Canadian Forces are at an increased risk because of the work that you do.

There are many misconceptions about mental illness. There’s a stigma about it - and one that needs to go away.

It’s not a weakness, a character flaw or something you can just suck up and get through.

Like any other disease or a wound it needs treatment and it’s something you can recover from.

Every day with treatment, support and help, people recover from mental illnesses.

I appeal to you, if you are struggling, even if you aren’t sure what you’re struggling with - get the help that you deserve.

If you know someone who is struggling, encourage them to get the help they deserve.

The military’s health care system is there to help members like you. If you are a Veteran, there are services and benefits available to you as well. But they can’t help you if you don’t come forward.

Don’t suffer in silence. Help is waiting for you.

Do it for yourself, do it for your family, do it so there is no longer a stigma that prevents others from seeking care.

Do it for all Canadians. Do it so we never hear about our sons or daughters suffering, or worse, hurting themselves, ever.

We need you to protect and watch over us. To do that you need to be healthy. You are our front line and we stand proudly behind you with admiration and respect.

CPO2 Kevin Ablett

My journey into mental health started when I was noticing things were outside the norm that I could not explain.

PO2 Kerry Houghton

I felt like I was a good actress. That I was still smiling for everyone but on the inside. I was not happy.

Maj Alexandre Dubois

The  two times I sought help well, the first time, it was a problem with my wife, a separation from my spouse following my return from a mission in Bosnia, and the second time, it was more recently, it related to a problem I had with my father.

PO2 Rhonda Guthrie-Taft

I did not feel myself; I was crying a good portion of the time, I didn’t want to leave the house, I couldn’t eat.

LCdr Simon Nadeau

Initially, I began seeking help because I divorced from my wife.

VAdm Mark Norman

I was struggling with a personal inability to cope.

MWO Dominic Chenard

About three months after I arrived from Afghanistan my wife told me ‘listen, you need to get help.’

CPO2 Kevin Ablett

…and because I couldn’t explain it I had to go find other information.

Capt Kim Miller

You know, I always had the nickname G.I. Jane. You know I was the go, go, go I could do anything. No one knew exactly what I was going through inside.

PO2 Kerry Houghton

Phew, I was afraid I wasn’t going to be the strong chick any more. I was very afraid of that.

Capt Kim Miller

I was scared. It took me 8 years to actually seek help.

MWO Dominic Chenard

There’s that fear that something is going to happen, so a lot of guys would say, ‘oh, no issues. Oh, no problem.’ At one point in time you need to go and get the help cause if you don’t your world around you is going to crash.

Sgt Lynne Gagnon

There’s no shame in having a mental illness. It takes strength of character to seek assistance and you have to be strong; you can’t wait because the longer you wait the worse it will get; things will just get more difficult.

PO2 Kerry Houghton

It is actually very courageous to go ahead and say ‘I need help.’

Maj Alexandre Dubois

Yeah, maybe my problems aren’t big enough for me to consult someone or, or …! You know, the mental health services, they’re really for people who’ve had problems on previous missions, but, on the other hand, I told myself, the services are there, there are people there who can help me.

Capt Kim Miller

The medical system was amazing. It was amazing. My chain of command was amazing. You know… no judgment.

PO2 Rhonda Guthrie-Taft

Things got worse, I still wasn’t able to sleep, so I phoned CFMAP, the Canadian Forces Members Assistance Program.

LCdr Simon Nadeau

Personally I called the 1-800, the service help line that offers assistance.

MWO Dominic Chenard

Well, to tell you the truth he was like a friend. It wasn’t me sitting on a couch telling him about my dramas and stuff like that. It was more of a conversation like we’re having right now.

CPO2 Kevin Ablett

She was waiting to hear what I had to say. It wasn’t made up. She said I don’t know, I don’t have a file. I want you to just tell me what you think is going on, and let’s just take it from there.

MWO Dominic Chenard

He made me feel at home. He made me safe a little bit, able to talk and open up.

Sgt Lynne Gagnon

All the specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians who give you outstanding treatment, who, who help you, who make sure you keep your appointments, who make sure you’re doing okay, who call you at home. Listen, I don’t know another profession that would do that for you.     

PO2 Kerry Houghton

Yeah, I trust my therapist 100%. The only time she discusses me is if I give her permission to do so.

LCdr Simon Nadeau

I saw eh… my therapist, and it was 100 % confidential.

VAdm Mark Norman

The system did exactly what you would want the system to do which is to protect my desire for privacy and confidentiality.

Capt Kim Miller

Seeking help was the best decision I ever made, because I mean, today I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, my husband is saying ‘I got my wife back’ my kids are saying ‘we got our mom back.’

Sgt Lynne Gagnon

It’s like having a broken leg, in the end. Listen, if you break a leg you go see the doctor; if something isn’t right in your head, you need help. I’ve never had a negative reaction from anyone.

PO2 Kerry Houghton

If anything your boss is like ‘ok, well they’re doing something. They’re going to get themselves fixed and they’re going to be a good sailor. As soon as they’re fixed.’

Sgt Lynne Gagnon

My boss was amazing, he supported me, he let me go to my medical appointments, because initially there were quite a few of them, and we had bizarre schedules, we didn’t work from 8 to 4.

VAdm Mark Norman

I’ve had four subsequent promotions to my first seeking help and I have my family still with me… and I’m still here.

MWO Dominic Chenard

It didn’t hurt my career, actually to tell you the truth I think it helped because after getting the help I was able to talk to young soldiers who had problems and was able to tell them ‘listen, this is what I’ve gone through

Maj Alexandre Dubois

Well, I think it’s important for me to, to stand up and say no, it’s not a problem, so go see a doctor, the services are there for us, aren't they …

PO2 Rhonda Guthrie-Taft

If I saw someone right in front of me that had the same symptoms I did I would ask right away if they needed assistance, and I would just try to make them feel like they are in a safe place.

Capt Kim Miller

If anybody out there is suffering, definitely don’t wait. If there is one thing that I could do again it would be to go for help a lot earlier.

Maj Alexandre Dubois

Get help early, before a problem gets too big, when you start thinking maybe, maybe I could go and bother a social worker who… well, go and get help.

VAdm Mark Norman

Pick up the phone. Reach out, talk to somebody. It’s ok to be overwhelmed. It’s ok to not know what to do. It’s ok to be struggling.

CPO2 Kevin Ablett

You need to think about what you need to do, what’s best for you and your family. You have a long life. Go live it.

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