In 2008, Dr. Anthony Levitt, Chief, Brain Sciences Program, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre received an award for his work in the field of treating mental illness. The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, who was giving the award, wrote of Dr. Levitt at the time: "His compassion and caring for his patients has helped them recover from struggles with mood disorders."
What Levitt said as he accepted the award has had a lasting impact on many of us.
He said that in his practice, he has found that more than medication or talk therapy, the most important thing he can provide for his clients experiencing mental illness is hope.
Levitt volunteered on the Advisory Committee for the online video resource, Working Through It. Each of the following individuals who were profiled in the series has shared insights about the role hope played for them. Their stories also give hope that can help others persevere through the sometimes-challenging work of recovery.
- Bonnie knows that it can be challenging to maintain hope when nothing seems to be working. She said, "I needed to know that even though this felt like my forever, horrible place, that it wasn't forever. It was a moment in time. If I had known that…my life would be better than I even imagined it could be…and I would be more fulfilled than I could ever imagine…the recovery probably would have gone a lot smoother."
- Melanie said, "I wish I had been more brave to talk about it sooner; to ask for help sooner. The longer I left it, the more my life fell apart financially and emotionally." She added, "And then I was hospitalized, and through that got a connection to CMHA. And along with that began going to the day programs at the hospital and learning different coping skills and strategies…It takes work but you can do this…I am so grateful that I've made it this far, and life is good."
- Sean, an entrepreneur who had severe clinical depression for many years, advised people to keep searching until you find a doctor who gives you hope. "You need to know that you will get better. I got better."
- Marvin, who sustained a psychological injury while serving in the Canadian Forces said he found hope in asking for help, "It takes a lot more courage to ask for help than continually denying that anything is wrong." He goes on to urge people to lose the macho attitude. "I can't emphasize it enough, it takes far more courage to go and ask for help and it helps get your life back on track."
Hope is also what helped one individual who wrote to the Centre after viewing Working Through It. He said: [Working Through It] gave me concrete information and tools to help me when I could not get in to see the proper specialists when I was in severe crisis. From the bottom of my heart, thank you…"
There is hope. Those impacted by mental health issues can and do get better.
For more hope and inspiration check out this video from Working Through It, Never Give Up.
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