This weeks is mental health week in Canada – not mental illness week. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being.”
This is true. We all do have mental health. And mental health is important. But what we need in society is mental illness week not mental health week.
Mental Health Affects Everyone
Mental health affects everyone and thus, mental health week, I suppose. But funds used for things like “mental health” and “mental health week” are going to who some of us call the “worried well.” These are people without mental illnesses with the same worries and cares of anyone else. Certainly life’s events can negatively affect these people’s mental health. But, really? Mental health week? We need to spend funds on “mental health” that really should be going to mental illness?
It’s mental health week, but don’t we really need a mental illness week in Canada? Here’s why mental health week just doesn’t make sense.Mental Illness Affects Everyone
I would argue that while mental health affects everyone, and is important on a personal basis, mental illness affects everyone and is important on a societal basis because while yucky mental health can make you feel bad, mental illness can make you feel dead. And not just that, but people with mental illness actively cost society money in terms of healthcare costs, loss of work time and in countless other ways.
For example, did you know that people with schizophrenia take up more hospital beds in Canada than any other illness? People with schizophrenia take up 8% of all hospital beds. That’s one-in-12 beds being taken up by a single mental illness. And that’s illness with a capital “ill.” Not a “mental health issue.” Oh, and funding for schizophrenia research is lower than it is for any other major illness in Canada.
And what are we not talking about? Mental illness. What are we talking about? The fluffy bunny concept of airy-fairy mental health.