TSN’s Michael Landsberg presented “Why is it so hard to talk about mental health?” at Grain World in Winnipeg in November.

Michael Landsberg

Sick. Not weak

“My name is Michael Landsberg and I’ve been called arrogant, brash and cocky, and I have suffered from depression and severe anxiety since 2000. It has taken me down and left me feeling like I had no value. I am currently on medication (although I am not advocating that this is a solution for everyone, but it has helped me) and have gone to therapy for this. I am not ashamed or embarrassed about this. And I am definitely not weak.”

This was Landsberg’s opener at the Grain World lunchtime session sponsored by Canadian Canola Growers Association and Manitoba Canola Growers after a short introduction on mental health in the farming community – a video with Paul Harvey’s narration of the ‘So God made a farmer’ poem and the acknowledgment that farmers are tough, hard-working people and can have struggles with mental health.

Landsberg, who has been with TSN since 1984, hosted Off the Record, TSN’s 18-season series from September 1997 to December 2015, and has hosted Olympic Games coverage. Landsberg first publicly mentioned that he had struggles with mental health in an interview with Stéphane Richer, a successful hockey player who played for the Montreal Canadiens and also struggled with mental health.

The emails Landsberg received after that interview really impacted his life. They led him into more conversations about mental health and to becoming a public spokesperson on the subject. He is an advocate for reducing the stigma of mental illness, personally and as an ambassador for the Bell “Let’s Talk” initiative.

Mental illness is a disease, Landsberg explained. It is like an injury that requires fixing. You just can’t see it the same way you can see other diseases.
You can see the impact of the disease, though, as nearly everyone in the audience raised their hand when asked if they know someone who has been affected by a mental illness or even worse, by a suicide resulting from mental illness. Still, while on the subject and discussing the importance of it, very few people were able to admit to having mental health issues.

It can be hard to talk about it, but there are people to help. Please see the sidebar with phone numbers for resources and support.