Steven Page performs one of his songs to illustrate the struggles he went through with depression.

Honesty and vigilance in mental health

Presentation by Steven Page at UTSC stresses the importance of awareness of mental health

October is Mental Health Awareness month, but just because November is upon us, it doesn’t mean we should put our mental health on the backburner.

Last week former Barenaked Ladies lead singer Steven Page came to visit the University of Toronto at Scarborough. For an hour he explained his struggles with his mental health, how he has learned over time to cope, and that those who are secretly struggling have outlets for help.

“Stress is a huge part of everyone’s life,so is sadness and grief,” Page said. ”These are all things we have dealt with at some point in our lives. A healthy brain processes it and learns to cope and overcome but sometimes a sick brain gets stuck.”

You need to be honest with yourself and those who are trying to help you, you need to be vigilant, it’s always a work in progress

— Steven Page

These issues we struggle with are our own, so there is no generic cure or steps to become “normal.” According to Page, many feel guilty for feeling the way they feel — that they “don’t deserve to feel that way. We may have a good life, great friends, good grades, a good job, but sometimes our illness is greater than us and we still feel unhappy.”

Page explains one in four people struggle with mental health issues, and the inner struggles are constantly ongoing. He explains that there is something perverse about feeling depressed, that hopelessness. “And at many times we may not see the signs of depression coming on, making it harder to deal with the situation at hand.”

Click here to listen to a short clip of Steven Page’s song “Overjoy” from his album Page One. This song gives an illustration of what Page and many others who struggle with depression go through.

What Page stressed the most is that when you are struggling you “need to be honest with yourself and those who are trying to help you, you need to be vigilant, it’s always a work in progress.”

He also warns that while it is important to get a diagnosis to begin working on the problem, we also need to be careful to not wear a diagnosis as a badge of “either honour or shame.”

As Page has stressed throughout his presentation, coping will always be a work in progress. There will be bad days on occasion, but it’s what you learn and how you approach your problems that prevent you from regressing.

For family members and friends, it may be difficult to help the person who is struggling. They may not want to discuss their problems because they may feel they have no right to be depressed. As Page discussed, the best thing family or friends can do is to “just be there so that the person knows they’re not alone, it’s the best thing you can do […] eventually they will open up.”