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Sometimes Love Isn't Enough
Sometimes Love Isn't Enough

Sometimes Love Isn't Enough

Jess Fazio on Be There
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"I, too, took on more than I could handle."
Five years ago I was a first year university student with a loved one who was struggling with their mental health. But I had no idea. I knew she was acting differently. I knew she was missing class and not doing the things she loved to do. I knew she was having a hard time adjusting to university, and I just thought, “we’re drifting apart.”

I simply didn’t know any better. 

It became clear to me that there was a deafening silence on our campus around the topic of mental health. So I started teaching students about mental health and encouraging them to talk about the things they were going through. Many students started these conversations with their friends and loved ones, which was exciting. But alarmingly I started to hear things like:

·       “I told my friend how I’m feeling and they got awkward and blew me off.”
·       “My friend told me I’m probably overreacting- I’m sure they’re right.”
·       “My friend told me things they are struggling with and I didn’t know what to say.”
·       “I appreciated her advice, but I can’t do it and that’s making me feel worse.”
·       “I am glad they told me they are having a hard time, but it’s starting to impact me and I don’t know what to do.”

It shouldn’t have been a surprise that these were the reactions from my peers. I had been in a position where I didn’t know how to support someone I loved who opened up to me. I, too, told her she was overreacting. I, too, tried to give her advice. I, too, took on more than I could handle. 

The culture around mental health is changing. Young people in Canada are talking about their mental health more and more. But as they become better at reaching out and asking for help, the gap between the ask and the support grows larger. We’ve never been given an opportunity to learn how to support someone, how to ensure they get the help they need, how to notice signs of struggle. How to be there.

The implications of that gap are significant. Wait times are longer than ideal, so often young people are left looking to loved ones while they wait for professional help. And it’s not always about crisis situations: having someone to rely on when professional help isn’t necessarily needed helps young people stay mentally well. 

As I experienced in first year, sometimes simply loving someone isn’t enough. We need to be educated about how to support someone who is struggling. 

The gap is in education. And now Jack.org is closing that gap with the creation of Be There, an online resource that gives users the knowledge and confidence to support someone who is struggling with their mental health.

Five years ago, I didn’t know how to be there for my loved one. Be There is for past me. Be There is for anyone who wants to support those they love by being ready to have a conversation about mental health or by recognizing signs before the conversation even begins. This is an important step in creating a country where youth suicide is no longer the leading cause of health-related death for your people. 

The responsibility rests with all of us. Please head to BeThere.org and let’s all start learning how to better support one another.