This week marks the first of seven weeks that we will be running a mental health column for children and youth. I was very excited to learn that we would be running what I consider to be a very important column and an extremely important topic in not only British Columbia, but across the globe.
Despite recent public discussion and annual open forums such as the Bell Let’s Talk Campaign, which raised over $5 million dollars in funding for Canadian mental health this year, depression is still an illness that is stigmatized.
This disheartens me, especially considering 13 per cent of youth in British Columbia experience mental health issues every year, according to Dr. David Smith, the author of the new columns.
Depression is a serious illness that needs to be looked at as such and treated with care. It’s amazing me to see so many celebrities, whether they are Olympic athletes like Clara Hughes, who biked 11,000 km in order to raise awareness for this illness, or well know musicians like Matthew Good who described his own battle with depression through countless tweets, shedding light on the issue.
Especially during this time of year, I think it is extremely important to be aware of this medical condition. Many individuals experience seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.) during the winter months and this is not something that should be looked over. A lack of sunlight in the wintertime can leave individuals feeling depressed and it’s extremely important that people do not just pass this off as winter blues.
Having suffered from S.A.D. myself, I recognize the importance of facing this illness head on and not allowing it to build up. Treatment can often be as simple as investing in a natural spectrum light, which is used to mimic the sun’s light during dark winter days.
This year, the Sparwood Library purchased one of these lights for the public’s use.
For me, it’s great to see a community coming together and working to battle this syndrome. Nobody should feel as though they’re alone and it’s great to see a community banding together to help those that may be suffering in silence. Having an object like this available in a public space, I believe, helps to battle the stigmatism surrounding depression.
I hope that Elk Valley locals get a chance to read Dr. David Smith’s new columns and that our community can continue to work together in developing an understanding of mental health issues.