By: Paulina Prazmo
How many times did you want to call BS on something completely absurd? Would the excuses you heard about mental health, mental illness and the stigma surrounding them be one? That is exactly what Let’s Call BS, a Canada-Wide campaign is trying to achieve. Let’s Call BS prefers to be called more of a “movement” rather than a campaign. The attitude and approach that mental health is given nowadays can be more than questionable and deserves to be criticized by everyone, including young people. They are focused on reforming the way we talk about mental health, act towards it and support it. One in five young people require help with their mental health, but only 25 per cent actually receive it. The lack of resources and funding are to blame when trying to provide help to those who need it. The way people and society treat mental health and people suffering through mental illnesses leads to tragic outcomes.
A local grade twelve Hamiltonian Vanessa Furtado, who is involved in the campaign, has her own story of how the approach to mental health affected her. “My best friend suffered from depression and no one knew about it…[she] took her own life. No one would have guessed that she was suffering, so you can imagine how many people similar to her are out there” said Furtado. You don’t have to be suffering from a mental illness to feel the effects of it. A family member or a close friend such as Furtado’s could be something that is burdening you with attempting to seek the help for them.
The shame and excuses surrounding mental health such as “Your problems aren’t nearly as bad as others, so stop being sad” or “Oh you’re young, it’ll work out. You don’t have real problems yet” are a few posted on the website of Let’s Call BS. Partners for Mental Health cofounded this campaign alongside participating youth, and the president Jeff Moat said, “the campaign is really about engaging young people to take action.” The facts surrounding mental health – like suicide being the second leading cause of death amongst young Canadians – make it no wonder that this campaign wants to call BS on how people and society approach this pressing issue. “Many young people suffer in silence from shame, stigma and lack of resources and this is frankly unacceptable. This isn’t an issue that should just be talked about. It’s an issue that needs full and immediate attention and we hope the name of the campaign delivers on that urgency.” The sad truth about young people opening up to another person and sharing their mental health problem is the BS answers they’re given with such as “shake it off,” “go for a run” or “it’s a phase that will pass,” Moat said.
He believes that generating awareness on such an issue isn’t enough and that young people hold the power to change. But creating that change is something that needs to first be shown within our communities. “The only way we are going to be seeing transformative change is engaging the youth to do something tangible. Taking action in a community, people want to see change where they live and work,” Moat stated. The first and most important thing to do to get involved is signing the declaration form on the website. Declare on the way that society fails to support mental health, share with others some of the BS you’ve encountered with mental health and educate yourself more.
“We feel that it’s important to talk about mental health as loud and authentic as possible. Young people need to raise their voices on calling BS” explained Moat. We’ve all heard about “stomp out the stigma” and “let’s talk about mental health,” but have you come across such a campaign as this one that encourages young people to stand alongside one another and say, enough is enough? Young people should not be given the halting excuses that society is endorsing, but rather be the powerful and brilliant population that can say “why don’t you pull up your pants and start providing help instead of excuses. Because till then, I’m calling bullshit on everything.”