Let’s face it, in spite of positive public relation campaigns, there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues.
When people think of someone with a mental health problem the image of the Calgary bus beheading in 2008 comes to mind and more recently, the Ottawa shooting of a young corporal by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.
Both men are reportedly to have struggled with their mental health.
In Calgary, Vince Li believed he was “chosen by God to save people from an alien attack” and was found not criminally responsible in the death of 22-year-old Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus.
He was committed to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.
More recently, the entire country was on high alert when Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier on ceremonial guard duty at the Canadian National War Memorial before storming the centre block of the Parliament buildings.
It was later reported that he too was struggling with a mental health problems even though the attack may have also been motivated by his new-found ideology in Islam.
The truth of the matter is that 20 per cent of all Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime and it affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
It doesn’t mean that they are all unstable and danger to society.
So keep in mind that the person sitting beside you on the bus can be living with depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders or any number of mental health issues. They deserve to be treated with the respect and compassion you would extend to anyone else in society.