I’ve been wanting to write a post on how much mental health costs us as a society as well as my own experience for a while now, but the words just didn’t seem to come out right. Probably because I’m still dealing with my mental health each and every day. I shared a post back in 2016 about coping with anxiety and the truth of the matter is that was the start of a very dark and twisty path with some serious anxiety.
Over the past two or so years the wars inside my head have gotten worse and it took me awhile to realize that I needed help. In late 2016 I found a psychologist and have been seeing her ever since. There are a number of reasons my anxiety started to slowly creep up to the point of being completely unbearable and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be brave enough to share all of those reasons on the vastness of the internet.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time, and it wasn’t until I was cyber-bullied to the point of being afraid to walk down the street that I even realized I had anxiety. My journey with mental health has been about 7 years and there have been ups and definite downs, something that I’m just going to have to deal with over the course of my life because I know that my anxiety isn’t just going to go away.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I have an amazingly supportive husband, I make a good income, and I have benefits at my work that include mental health. Each year I have about $1,000 to use on a psychologist, which equates to about 5 visits. As I continue to grow in my mental health journey I’m hoping that this will be enough for me, but going into this battle I needed more help than that and I’m so lucky our family was in a position to support me through this decisions. In 2017 our household spent just over $4,000 of our own money on therapy. Part of me feels a twinge of embarrassment, but I think that speaks to the stigma that still exists. I try to remind myself you can’t put a price tag on a human life.
Apart from my own personal story that are millions of Canadians that suffer from mental health issues and many of them aren’t as fortunate as I am. At $200 per session, they can’t afford to seek the help they so desperately need. The Canadian economy suffers by $50 Billion dollars each year because of mental health. $32.3 Billion is related to depression and $17.3 is related to anxiety. $50 Billion dollars is about $1,500 per Canadian. One-quarter of people aren’t able to work because of their symptoms. If our country started to create a more affordable way for people to get help not only would it cost the economy less, there would be more preventative measures put in place that could be used by everyone. A lot of people don’t seek help until it’s really bad, or in some cases, they don’t seek help at all and it’s too late.
I believe firmly that our government and our employers need to help Canadians tackle their mental health and stay on top of it just like you would your annual doctor’s appointment. It upsets me that there are people out there who can’t get help or feel crushed because they are not only dealing with their own mental health issues they now have to figure out how to cover the cost of their health issue. It makes mental health feel like a burden and that shouldn’t be the case for anyone. If you are feeling anxious, or depressed or have realized a change in your mood recently please always know there are people you can reach out to for help. Sometimes it just takes a good friend, or a stranger on the internet to kindly nudge you in the right direction. You are not alone.