Last year, around this time, my Canadian Poetry professor stood up at the front of the class and suggested a pretty surprising unit project.
“What do you guys think about putting together creative presentations on suicide?” she asked.
We all stared at her.
“If we do it in groups we’ll have time for everyone, don’t worry,” she added, as though that was the reason for our being dumbstruck.
Our poetry unit for that month had focused on mental illness, so her idea didn’t actually come from left field. But it wasn’t until she brought up our relationships with mental illness that I began to come around to her project proposal — when asked who had attempted suicide, or encountered suicide or suicide attempts or by loved ones, at least half the class raised our hands.
And I think a lot of students spent a lot more time on that project than we had expected to.
Now, I know that major depression isn’t the only form of mental illness, not even close. However, like other forms of mental illness, it’s slowly beginning to be discussed more openly — and more and more often there are resources for those dealing with mental health issues, as well as their families and/or caregivers.
One way to find out about resources for mental illness in families is to attend a panel discussion being hosted at the Koffler Centre next week. The panelists will talk about their experiences of being a partner of someone with a mental health issue, the impact on their children, positive coping strategies, and how to navigate the mental health care system. They will also offer information about resources and support that are available.
Panel Discussion: Dealing with Mental Illness in a Family
Date: Thursday, March 28
Time: 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
Location: 214 College Street, Room 313
To register or to find out more, click here to go to the FCO website.