If we are being honest, winter months are not my best. I frequently struggle with a loss of routine, an inability to jump out of bed and a very negative headspace. The last few years have left a noticeable strain on my relationships and creativity, especially during the months of February and March. I tend to make like a bear and hibernate as much as possible – which is not the best coping mechanism but certainly a trend I have come to notice. During these times, Netflix binges are as common as comfort food meals and I tend to become an entertainment buff from the comfort of my own bed. Once we cut into April’s sunshine things tend to get a little better but there is a part of me that is still happy to see the new releases – especially my latest favourite 13 Reasons Why.
I connected with the show immediately – it is easy to follow, has a ton of drama, and covers many topics I see on a daily basis while working at a college. Hannah Baker is every girl in one way or another. She struggles with things that teens and young adults face on a daily basis.
If you haven’t heard of the show – it is based on Jay Asher’s best-selling novel focusing on Hannah Baker, a high school student who committed suicide and the tapes she left behind describing the reason for her tragic decision. Not only has the show become acclaimed by all who watch it but it leaves a lasting impression on viewers and has started a very necessary conversation about mental health and our society.
Recognize the signs
Not everyone who needs help will ask for it. It is important to know the health resources available and be a resource yourself to your peers. Many times people going through crisis are asking for help and you may not recognize the signs. Do some research or training to get acquainted with the resources at your school or workplace and how you can help those around you. Mental health support is everyone’s responsibility.
Be proactive in the approach to mental health
On the show, the support for students struggling with depression didn’t exist when Hannah could have benefited from them. Her death encouraged the administration to put up suicide awareness posters, provide counselling for teens effected by the loss of Hannah, and host parent sessions. In a world that has an awareness and want to discuss the effects of mental health, bullying, and rape, it is important that schools and family members are proactive in their approach to these conversations rather than dealing with a negative outcome reactively.
You don’t know what everyone is going through
You are never aware of the reality others are living. It is important to be kind to others and observant for when their behaviours change. Let the people you know, even if it is not well, that you are there for them if they need it. Even when people are not reaching out – it is important to be a support.
The conversations started from 13 Reasons Why, whether you loved it or hated it, are important. The show is filled with taboo conversations that no one likes to talk about but everyone needs to hear. As with the #BellLetsTalk campaign, these messages need to be heard, discussed and continued on a regular basis. As the world changes, stigmas must change with it.