The ‘Look’

Canadian Mental Health Association offers help, understanding

By Allie Blades

The “look” – it’s all too familiar for my family.

It’s the look you see when the person has no idea how to react to this unusual story. This face holds confusion, pity and a touch of judgment.

My father-in-law took his own life after fighting the darkness of depression; his parting gift to us was disorientation and an ashamed state of belonging to a group discussed in hiding.

As my family navigated this new territory, I searched for support. I reached out to the British Columbia Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) where I found resources and a community of understanding.

Annually, 3,500 Canadian families are affected by suicide.

The CMHA, South Cariboo Branch (CMHA-SC) is recognized as a local hub for support. Amongst this group, the “look” was replaced by actions of guidance and acceptance.

As a result of the organization that was welcoming and altruistic, I became a board member for the CMHA-SC. My membership is an effort in holding out a hand to families navigating mental illness because our collective voice is stronger than the whispers of perceptions.

The board of directors’ aim is to broaden a local initiative to end the stigma of taboo words like depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The “look” needs to be replaced with education and open conversation.

I will never again be embarrassed as a result of the support from CMHA.

Join the conversation during Mental Health Week (May 2-8) by using the hashtag “GetLoud” or become a member of your local CMHA branch.

Together, we are going to reduce the stigma. For more information, visit:

The CMHA is a national charity that helps maintain and improve mental health for all Canadians. As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, the CMHA helps people access the community resources they need to build resilience and support recovery from mental illness.

In British Columbia, mental health, substance use and addictive behaviour are within scope of the organization.

Allie Blades is the vice-president of the CMHA-SC.