How do you respond when asked, "How are you today?"
Most of us fall into the comfortable, but guarded, "Fine thanks, how are you?", whether we mean it or not.

How often have we responded with that lie, "fine, thanks" when we actually were not fine at all? How often do we wish that we could be blatantly honest instead of participating in that socially acceptable "dance of deceit"? Wouldn't it be nice to be honest enough to share any hurts, anxieties, or sense of hopelessness that we may be feeling with the person asking that question? Wouldn't it be nice if we could feel that the inquirer actually cared about how we responded? Wouldn't it be nice to know that the person hearing our honest response would be trustworthy and non-judgmental?

Well, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is encouraging us to actually say how we truly are feeling during Mental Health Week, from May 5th to 11th. The CMHA is launching their first-ever Be Mind Full initiative. The CMHA website says, "This year we want to take our efforts to the next level. Building awareness around mental health issues is important, but it is no longer enough.  We are moving MHW (Mental Health Week) beyond awareness to action to help change people's attitudes and behaviours towards mental health and mental illness issues... We are starting a conversation. We are asking Canadians to tell us how they really feel. Are you fine or phine? Too often people claim to be feeling fine when they do not... the result: approximately seven million Canadians - 20 percent of the population - live with mental illness. And many do not seek treatment because of the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems." (see

What can each of us do to help in the fight against the stigma of mental illness?

Each of us needs to be a better listener.
If we are encouraging others to tell us how they really feel, we need to provide a "safe place" for them to be able to share true feelings or issues. 
We need to listen without being judgmental. 
All of us also need to realize that we are not alone. Mental illness is so very common. No one is alone simply because of any illness, mental or otherwise. We are also not alone in the fact that somebody does care, and that it is important to seek help if we are struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness. Mental illness can affect anyone, of any background, whether rich or poor, whether a person of faith or not. Talk to your doctor, phone your local Canadian Mental Health Association (phone 519-752-2998 for the Brant County chapter), or talk with someone else you can trust.

See the attached link to the Canadian Mental Health Association website and calendar of Mental Health Week events and resources.


Sincerely, Philip A. Smith