People with mental health and addictions issues often face stigma in their daily lives. Stigma is a negative stereotype that marks someone as different from others. It can lead to isolation and prevent people from seeking help. Find out more about stigma and its impact, and common myths about mental health and addictions.
The goal of Break the Barrier is to reduce stigma and create community support for people suffering with mental health and addictions issues in the Saskatoon region by inviting people in recovery to share their stories, and with the public at large through community events and activities. Find out how you can help Break the Barrier.
What is Stigma?
Myth #1: Mental health problems do not affect children or youth.
Any problems they have are just part of growing up.
Reality: One in five children and youth struggle with their mental health. 70% of adult mental illness begins during childhood or adolescence, including: depression, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders. However, 79% of youth who receive help improve significantly with treatment, which lasts less than 12 sessions for 66% of them.
Myth #2: It is the parents' fault if children suffer from mental health problems.
Reality: Mental health disorders in children are caused by biology, environment, or a combination of both. They can be caused by genetics or biological factors such as a chemical imbalance or prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs. They can also be the result of abusive or neglectful treatment or stressful events.
Myth #3: People with a mental illness are ‘psycho’, mad and dangerous, and should be locked away.
Reality: Most people who have a mental illness struggle with depression and anxiety. They have normal lives, but their feelings and behaviours negatively affect their day-to-day activities. Conduct disorders or acting out behaviours are consistently the primary reason for referral to a children's mental health agency.
Myth # 4: All people with Schizophrenia are violent.
Reality: Very little violence in society is caused by people who are mentally ill. Unfortunately, Hollywood often portrays mentally ill people as dangerous. People with a major mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
Myth #5: Depression is a character flaw and people should just ‘snap out of it’.
Reality: Research shows that depression has nothing to do with being lazy or weak. It results from changes in brain chemistry or brain function. Therapy and/or medication help people to recover.
Myth #6: Addiction is a lifestyle choice and shows a lack of willpower.
Reality: Addictions involve complex factors including genetics
the environment, and sometimes other underlying psychiatric conditions such as depression. When people who become addicted have these underlying vulnerabilities it's harder for them to simply kick the habit.
Myth #7: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also known as shock therapy, is painful and barbaric.
Reality: ECT is one of the most effective treatments for people whose depression is so severe that antidepressant medications just don't do the job and who are debilitated by the depression.
Myth #8: People with a mental illness lack intelligence.
Reality: Intelligence has nothing to do with mental illnesses or brain disorders. On one hand, many people with mental disorders are brilliant, creative, productive people. On the other hand, some people with mental disorders are not brilliant or creative. Certain mental illnesses may make it difficult for people to remember facts or get along with other people, making it seem like they are cognitively challenged. Overall, the level of intelligence among people with mental illness likely parallels the patterns seen in any healthy population.
Myth #9: People with a mental illness shouldn't work because they'll just drag down the rest of the staff.
Reality: People with mental illness can and do function well in the workplace. They are unlikely to miss any more workdays because of their condition than people with a chronic physical condition such as diabetes or heart disease. The real problem is the prejudice against hiring people with mental illness (how will disclosing my mental illness affect work/school). The resulting unemployment leaves them isolated, a situation that can add to their stress, and make it more difficult to recover from the illness.
Myth #10: Mental illness is a single, rare disorder.
Reality: Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, addiction disorders and impulse control disorders are all different categories of very different mental illnesses- each with its own features and underlying causes (common mental illnesses). Each mental illness is a variation on the theme of brain chemistry gone awry, affecting things like mood and perception and each has its own specific causes, features and approaches to treatment.
Myth #11: People with a mental illness never get better.
Reality: TREATMENT WORKS! Treatments for mental illnesses are more numerous and more sophisticated than ever and researchers continue to discover new treatments. Because of these advances, many people can and do recover from mental illness.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you are not alone.
There are many supports, services and treatment options that may help.
If you or someone you know is suicidal or in an emergency situation, please call the Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service at (306) 933-6200, call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital emergency room.
If the situation is not urgent, please make an appointment with your physician or another health care provider. The following organizations can also help: Mental Health & Addictions Services (Saskatoon Health Region), Crocus Co-op, Saskatoon Housing Coalition, Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Services, Canadian Mental Health Association - Saskatoon Branch, Living with Mental Illness Conference.
SHARE YOUR STORY
If you have a story of struggle or success, we would love to hear from you. Please submit your story in the available form. Thanks for your courageous choice to share your story with us.
Break the Barrier is about reducing stigma.
As professionals working with people who suffer with mental health and addictions issues, we know the road to recovery starts with support, from family members, friends, peers and co-workers.
That’s why it’s crucial we all do more to educate the public about stigma and how damaging it can be.
One way we can do that is to share our stories about our personal experiences with mental health and addictions. By doing this, we can offer hope, encouragement and support to others who are dealing with mental health and addictions issues, and to their families and friends who may be trying to help but don’t know how to where to start.
When more people share stories of recovery, struggle or hope, it can also correct misconceptions and stereotypes about mental health conditions – it can help end stigma. Friends and family members can share their stories too!
There are many ways you can share your story:
Submit a written story, post a video message, upload a photo. With your approval, your story, in whichever format you choose, will be posted on this website for others to see, hear and learn from.
VISIT STORIES OF
The following organizations are collaborating to organize awareness and education events in the Saskatoon region:
Mental Health & Addictions Services, Saskatoon Health Region
Saskatoon Housing Coalition
Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Services
Canadian Mental Health Association—Saskatoon Branch
Living with Mental Illness Conference
Who We Are
Our goal is to reduce stigma towards people suffering with mental health and addictions issues in the Saskatoon region.
We will achieve this goal through the Break the Barrier campaign, which is designed to educate people about stigma and how it hinders the recovery process, and to encourage understanding.
Education will take place at public awareness events and activities hosted by the Break the Barrier partners.
We invited those in recovery to share their stories so that others who may be suffering are encouraged to reach out for help.
If your organization works with individuals suffering from mental health and addictions issues, you are welcome to join us in helping to
Break the Barrier: End stigma. Change lives.
For more info, please contact:
Manager - Adult Recovery Services,
Mental Health and Addictions Services
Saskatoon Health Region