When I was growing up we didn’t talk about mental health and mental illness.
It wasn’t something we talked about at home.
It wasn’t something we learned about at school.
And it certainly wasn’t something we discussed at Girl Guides. Now there’s Mighty Minds, Girl Guides of Canada’s new mental health program.
My mental health story
I developed a mental illness at the age of 12. I live with a few body-focused repetitive behaviours. I hid my illness for over a decade. My family knew, and a few close friends – but that was all. Hiding my mental illness was something I’d always done and the concept of talking about it was terrifying.
In April 2016, I began to blog and write about my experiences with mental illness. Since then I’ve been talking to just about anyone who will listen about my experiences, about body-focused repetitive behaviours and taking care of ourselves.
I was compelled to talk, to open up because of one person. One person who made me feel like someone else out there understood. Someone who made me feel not alone, but part of something. It was in that moment of acknowledging I wasn’t alone that I knew I had to give someone else that feeling, too. I knew I had to speak about my experiences so that even one girl knows she is not alone.
In Guiding, we’re part of so many somethings
Girl Guides has made me feel like I’m not alone, and it does the same for thousands of girls across the country. It makes us feel part of something. Part of the change, part of the caring and part of a movement.
Talking about mental health and mental illness with girls will ensure they don’t feel alone, and ensure they know they have people to go to, but most importantly it opens up discussion. Mighty Minds allows girls of all ages the opportunity to talk – and to learn to talk about – mental health and mental illness. And that’s something I can’t help but think would have helped 12-year old me immensely.
I’m taking part in Mighty Minds so that girls know that mental health is something we need to talk about – and that they are never alone.
Guest post by Anastasia Smallwood. Anastasia is a third-year Bachelor of Public Relations student at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, NS. A Brownie Unit Guider and strategic communications coordinator for her provincial council, she loves to spend her time volunteering and planning events.