Defence Team Update: A message from the Clerk of the Privy Council for Mental Health Week

May 5, 2020 – Defence Stories

Dear Colleagues,

This is Mental Health Week. Maybe in the past you’ve just noted it was Mental Health Week and moved on—but somehow this year it feels different. COVID-19 has made a lot of difference to a lot of people in a lot of ways. I think it has touched everyone in some way or another. One area it has had an impact on is our mental health.

There are many things that affect our mental health—stress, worry, disruption and uncertainty among them. COVID-19 has certainly brought those things into our lives, and it would be naive or arrogant to think our mental health isn’t affected. Of course, many of us had struggles long before the pandemic arrived.

So whether it’s about our own coping, or a loved one, or a colleague, Mental Health Week is a good reminder of our vulnerability and the availability of help. Be self-aware. Be aware of others. Make use of the help that is available—and encourage others to do the same.

This year’s Mental Health Week campaign, led once again by the Canadian Mental Health Association, is asking all Canadians to stay socially connected, even while engaging in physical distancing, and to say more than “I’m fine,” when discussing their mental health. In these rather uncertain times, it’s ok not to be ok. This week is all about contributing to a culture of understanding and acceptance, where we can all be open and honest about our mental health and how we’re feeling.

There are many resources available to you, such as the Government of Canada’s Mental Health resource hub, Health Canada’s Wellness Together Canada portal, and the Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace fact sheets on COVID-19 and mental health. I would also encourage anyone who would like to speak in confidence with a mental health professional to contact the Employee Assistance Program, which provides confidential support through its counsellors who are available 24 hours a day.

As you go through this week, remember: we are not alone. You are not alone. We will continue to face this together, and we will get through it together.

Ian Shugart
Clerk of the Privy Council
and Secretary to the Cabinet

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