The con­ver­sa­tion has to hap­pen more

The Compass - - OPINION - — Ni­cholas Mercer is a reporter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­

Last week the world lost one of its best-known funny men in Robin Wil­liams.

Ad­dic­tion and de­pres­sion took Wil­liams’ life. He com­mit­ted sui­cide at his San Fran­cisco home.

The world re­sponse has been dy­namic as peo­ple are us­ing this mor­bid oc­ca­sion to spark the con­ver­sa­tion on men­tal health and ill­ness.

Un­for­tu­nately, this per­pet­u­ates a cy­cle that has so­ci­ety only hav­ing that con­ver­sa­tion af­ter some­one has taken their own life. It only hap­pens if it is re­vealed they were suf­fer­ing from a men­tal ill­ness.

Ex­perts will hop on day­time tele­vi­sion, in news­pa­pers and on­line to say this con­ver­sa­tion has to hap­pen more of­ten. Peo­ple should be talk­ing about men­tal ill­ness more than they are now.

Talk­ing about it will help make it bet­ter, they’ll say. The pub­lic will get this, and count­less other nu­ances that can help peo­ple suf­fer­ing with dis­eases like de­pres­sion and so­cial anx­i­ety, for a cou­ple of weeks.

Then it will quiet down. The pub­lic will again pull back and be­gin to shut things down.

This will hap­pen un­til the an­nual Bell Let’s Talk event. Then the cy­cle starts up again.

Now, there are move­ments that have tried to make this a per­ma­nent thing.

Clara Hughes’ Big Ride tried to turn the con­ver­sa­tion into a year-round thing ear­lier this year. The Cana­dian Olympian rode her bike across Canada to raise aware­ness of men­tal ill­ness. But again, that was in­ter­mit­tent at best. As some­one who has suf­fered from de­pres­sion, although not clin­i­cally di­ag­nosed, it can be a dark place.

You feel shut off from the world and your mind pulls back. You have lit­tle de­sire to in­ter­act with peo­ple as the neg­a­tive thoughts that con­sume you con­tinue to grow in your psy­che.

Talk­ing about it helped im­mensely. Slowly, it started pulling me out of that place and onto a hap­pier frame of mind.

But, there aren’t enough peo­ple talk­ing about it con­sis­tently. That is what we need to change.

The con­ver­sa­tion has to be ev­ery other week or ev­ery other day. It can’t just be when some­one with a men­tal ill­ness ends their life.

If a person you know ap­pears to be down and out. They aren’t in some sort of ‘funk.’ They may gen­uinely need your help.

Talk to them, help them get the aid they de­serve. Spark the con­ver­sa­tion that they may be afraid to start.

It takes courage to come for­ward with your prob­lems. Hu­mans, by na­ture, can be stub­born when it comes to help­ing them­selves.

We like to han­dle things on our own and we don’t want to bur­den other peo­ple with our prob­lems.

How­ever, these prob­lems can be danger­ous. So, don’t be afraid. The world is ready to help.

Talk and be open. You do not have to lay ev­ery­thing on the ta­ble at the same time. You can open up in pieces.

It is go­ing to get bet­ter.

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