Sixteen-year-old Mackenzie Murphy has been battling depression for the past four years, but that hasn’t stopped the young woman from reaching out to her fellow Canadians who are suffering through mental illness.
Back when she was 12, Mackenzie, who lives in Airdrie, Alta., started getting bullied relentlessly by her classmates. The mental and physical attacks sent the teen spiralling into depression.
“I truly thought that everyone would be happier if I was gone,” she said to CTV News.
Things came to a head last year when the Alberta teen attempted to take her life six times and was sent to hospital and into therapy. It was there that she learned that there were other teens in the same boat.
“I know, for me, the biggest thing that I needed to know was that other people felt this too,” Murphy said. “It’s very comforting to know that you’re not alone in this fight.”
The number of 12 to 19 year olds in Canada at risk of developing depression is estimated at 3.2 million and Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third-highest among industrialized nations. So it’s no surprise that Mackenzie’s peers started reaching out to her with their own stories of stress, anxiety and depression, according to CTV News.
It was here that Mackenzie decided that, despite still struggling with depression, she would speak up and take action.
While in recovery, she successfully launched a campaign that got an anti-bullying bylaw passed in her hometown, the first of its kind in Canada. The provision would see fines for offenders who torment others, and the teen’s efforts won her the Me to We award for social activism in 2014.
“There’s so much to do within the mental health system and I think we’re just at the beginning,” Mackenzie said. “I’m still struggling every day and it is a journey. I am now six months out of the hospital, I am off meds…I’m at a very healthy point in my life.”
It’s time we started talking openly about our mental health. Join the conversation on Bell Let’s Talk Day, January 27, and help end the stigma around mental illness. For every text message sent and mobile or long-distance call made by Bell Canada and Bell Aliant customers, Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health programs. The same goes for anyone sending a tweet using #BellLetsTalk or sharing the Bell Let’s Talk image on Facebook. But talking about it is just the first step: Visit letstalk.bell.ca for more ways you can effect change and build awareness around mental health.