Mental Health Matters
by Roashna Akbari
Mental health is an extremely personal issue for me. As a child of refugees,
I've seen both of my parents battle with severe mental illness as a
consequence of the ongoing war. They've experienced poverty,
imprisonment, the death of loved ones, bomb attacks and culture shock in
their search for refuge. My parents struggled with post-traumatic stress
disorder, depression and anxiety. Due to the stigma associated with mental
illness, it was challenging for them to recognize the severity of their situation
and access the treatment they desperately needed. Navigating the complex
and costly mental healthcare system was yet another obstacle they had to
overcome. But it shouldn't have to be that difficult to receive help. I hope to
live in a Canada where we can use our health cards, instead of credit cards,
to receive essential mental health services.
My name is Roashna Akbari, I'm a third-year Afghan-Canadian nursing student studying at Ryerson University, and I recently had the opportunity to work with Future Majority to bring attention to the mental health crisis in Canada. Over the past six weeks, we've met with politicians, collaborated with community organizations and mobilized hundreds of youth to get their voices heard. Our team has worked hard on our campaign to advocate for accessible mental health services.
The pandemic has widened the gaps in our healthcare system that have
been ignored for years. Mental health was neglected before the pandemic,
and now more than ever, individuals are struggling with their mental health.
Yet, there are not nearly enough mental health professionals or services to
provide help for those who need it. As frontline health care workers, nurses
have been dealing with a severe shortage of staff and personal protective
equipment, an influx of COVID-19 patients, and work in unsafe conditions. As
the backbone of the healthcare system, nurses have played an enormous
role in safeguarding the lives of everyone affected. However, tirelessly
working on the frontlines can have detrimental effects on one’s mental
health. As nurses, we prioritize the wellbeing of all those affected by COVID-
19, but the question remains, who will look after our wellbeing? I think it's
essential to address the issues and challenges nurses face to help them
continue the fight against COVID-19.