News & Events News & Announcements 2016 SSO Talks for Bell Let's Talk Day

SSO Talks for Bell Let's Talk Day


For Bell Let’s Talk Day, we sat down with Tatiana Wyse, an Early Intervention Family Worker at SSO, to discuss ways to get help for mental illness and why talking about mental health can combat stigma. 

Why can it be difficult for people to reach out for mental health help?

People may choose not to seek mental health services because of the stigma attached to mental illness. Stigma holds people back. There is the fear of being ostracized, or being seen differently or looked down on by peers. There is also the fear of being abandoned by friends and family, which can unfortunately happen. For family members, they may be concerned about not only protecting their own image but the image of their loved one. Stigma is a huge barrier for obtaining help and it is something we as a society should work to end. 

What can people expect once they do reach out for help?

Once someone decides they need help, the first thing they should do is talk to their family doctor. The family doctor knows you and your history and will be able to refer you to an expert. If you do not have a family doctor there are community centres across Ontario where you can talk to a counselor and request a referral to a psychiatrist if needed. The next step would be to talk to a psychologist or a psychiatrist or a clinical social worker. These experts will be able to listen and help you identify the signs and symptoms you are experiencing, give you a diagnosis and provide you with the next steps in order to retain or improve the quality of your life. At the doctor or service provider’s office you can talk about the symptoms you are experiencing, receive information about the types of treatment available and create a treatment plan.

What are some of the signs people can look out for in themselves or a loved one for a mental health issue?

There are many types of mental illness. Symptoms can show themselves in different ways depending on the person and the severity of the illness. For example, with psychosis or schizophrenia people can have difficulty in keeping regular routines or activities, or can start to behave in unusual ways. There are also symptoms that can be more subtle which makes it difficult to identity when someone is struggling. For example, if someone is having trouble focusing at work or school, we may think they’re being lazy but it could be something more serious. Some of the things to look for are change in behaviour or drastic changes in social interactions such as withdrawal or the ability to fit in. It is important is to keep an open mind and avoid being judgmental. Ask if the person needs help and be receptive if someone wants to talk.

As a counsellor, what are your first steps when meeting with someone living with schizophrenia?

When someone comes in to my office and says, “I think I have schizophrenia”, the first thing we do is a brief assessment.  I’ll ask questions about their health history, if they are connected to a mental health care provider or if they have already been diagnosed. If they are not diagnosed or connected to a mental health care provider I will provide a referral. At SSO we make sure to connect with other health providers in the person’s life to provide an interconnected service that is holistic and complementary. Schizophrenia is a difficult illness to diagnose. Symptoms have to be present for at least a year and some of the symptoms may be related to other illnesses. Together with the client we will figure out their priorities and how they would like to move forward. My goal is to provide the highest quality of service to support the success of the individual.
Why do you think days like Bell Let’s Talk are important for those who are struggling and those who do not know much about mental health?

Bell Let’s Talk Day helps to raise awareness about mental illness. It brings the topic of mental illness to the forefront and opens the conversation about this issue, reminding us there is more than just physical illness and that there is no shame in experiencing mental illness. Though society is improving on how it views mental illness, we still have a long way to go. 

If you need to talk, contact SSO's Ask the Expert line at 1-855-449-9949 or email us at


SSO educational resources (print) and (online)

Strengthening Families Together

Bell Let’s Talk 

CMHA Ontario

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Connex Ontario

On Bell Let's Talk Day, Bell raised $6.2 million for mental health initiatives in Canada. During the day SSO interacted with a higher number of people on our Ask the Expert line and had meaningful conversations on Facebook and Twitter