What will every reader of this article actively do to reduce the stigma of mental health, asks Thomson Scarlett of Sounding Board Counselling Services.

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October 2014 has marked several worldwide events that are actively raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental health. Thomson Scarlett of Sounding Board Counselling Services challenges every reader of this article on what they will actively do to help reduce the stigma of mental health.

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Mental health effects everybody including every person who is reading this article.

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Friday, October 10, 2014 was World Mental Health Day. This day was first established in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health. The objective was to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health issues.

Why care?

One reason. Mental health effects everybody including every person who is reading this article. Whether a person has received a diagnosis, or is just feeling a little stressed, everybody has mental health. Even if one has had the privilege of having good mental health, people are surrounded by family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances who may not have this good fortune.

Here is a brief look at what cities and communities are doing to help reduce the stigma of mental health.

In Canada, Vancouver landmarks were lit up in purple in support of World Mental Health Day. According to Global news, “Purple is in recognition of the Amanda Todd legacy project. The Port Coquitlam teenager was the victim of online bullying and took her own life two years ago....... Landmarks in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and London also participated.” (http://globalnews.ca/news/1610301/world-mental-health-day-vancouver-landmarks-light-up-purple/)

In the United Kingdom, people were invited to a free theatre production in Derby to mark World Mental Health Day. According to the Derby Telegraph, “Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is inviting people to Quad in the city's Market Place for the event, which aims to promote awareness and help to reduce stigma and discrimination around mental health issues.” (http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Free-theatre-Derby-s-Quad-mark-World-Mental/story-23084678-detail/story.html)

World Mental Health Day has also indirectly sparked other grass root movements.
In the United States, communities across the nation joined NAMIWALKS to raise money and awareness for people with mental illness. NAMIWalks celebrated their 12th Anniversary in 2014 and are the largest and most successful mental health awareness and fundraising event in America.

So what can be done to help reduce the stigma? Whatever is decided, it does not have to require a lot of time, effort or energy. Every reader has the power to volunteer for various mental health campaigns that occur within their community. Every reader has the power to speak up when hearing others ridicule or judge the importance of mental health. Every reader has the power to randomly call a friend or family member who may be struggling and just offer to listen. Any level of participation can have an impact to reduce the stigma. Now, it’s time.

Thomson Scarlett is a Psychotherapist who has been treating individuals and couples for the past six years in private practice. Thomson is the founder of Sounding Board Counselling Services which provides affordable counselling for individuals and couples in the Hamilton and Toronto area. Sounding Board therapists use humanistic and cognitive behavioural approaches and address such areas as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, communication skills and anger management. Visit Sounding Board Counselling Services online at: http://www.soundingboardonline.com

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Thomson Scarlett
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