health | January 16, 2013

Lifting The Stigma: Mental Health Speaker Michael Landsberg

"If you talk about mental illness in a dark, sombre message, no one is going to listen," Michael Landsberg says in a recent interview. "I try to bring a sense of levity." Landsberg is the host of the popular TSN sports talk show Off The Record. He is charismatic, bold, upbeat, and demands attention in front of the camera. He has also suffered from depression for most of his life, and now he is speaking out about his experiences to help reverse the stigma surrounding mental illness. People can be functioning members of society and struggle with mental illness, he says—and Landsberg's personal story is a testament to his message.

In the interview, he says that people who are suffering from a mental illness should not be afraid to admit it. Over time, he says he realized that his depression was "an illness, not a weakness," and stopped worrying about what people thought. Since coming forward he says that 9/10 days are good days for him, and he hopes his message can help others get to a similar place. In his keynotes, he uses examples from his daily life—and those of other famous athletes who have also battled mental illness—to paint a more complete picture of mental illness than is typically discussed in public. He uses humour and an upbeat rapport to show audiences that overcoming obstacles is possible no matter how bleak the circumstances, and that mental illness awareness is something that needs to be taken seriously.