Message from the Minister of Health: Mental Health Week – May 1 – 7, 2017


Mental Health Week provides an opportunity for us to think about our own mental health and what we can do – as individuals and in our communities – to strengthen our resilience when we face challenges. It is also a time to talk about mental health and reduce the stigma attached to it. I invite all Canadians to participate online using #GETLOUD to share their ideas, experiences, and thoughts this week.

Mental illnesses affect all of us – directly or indirectly – at some point in our lives. One in three Canadians is affected by a mental illness in their lifetime. Direct healthcare costs associated with mental illness are estimated to be around $8 billion a year, while the wider economic costs are estimated at $50 billion annually when lost productivity and quality of life are factored in.

These realities are why we have put forward significant investments for mental health through Budget 2017, which will provide provinces and territories with $5 billion over 10 years to improve access to timely, appropriate and cost-effective mental health services for Canadians. In the coming weeks, we will work with the provinces and territories to determine how these funds will be spent and how to report back to Canadians on these investments. Additionally, new investments to support Indigenous mental health are being guided by the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework and the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy.

For Indigenous peoples who may experience unique barriers to mental health services, support must be accessible and culturally appropriate, as well as community based and led. For example, the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line, launched last year, provides telephone counselling support for First Nations and Inuit 24 hours a day, seven days a week in English and French, and upon request in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktut. Individuals who are in distress and need help are encouraged to call 1-855-242-3310. Counsellors also work with callers to identify follow-up services they can access.

The Government is also supporting the development of a national suicide prevention service, which will launch in late 2017. Accessible by text, chat and phone, the service will link existing regional distress and crisis line services across Canada to ensure that individuals in crisis, regardless of where they live, have 24/7 access to support.

We are making strides in providing individuals and communities with information, supporting the development of tools and initiatives that promote positive mental health, strengthening resiliency, addressing issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder, and contributing to the prevention of mental illness and suicide.

This week, I encourage you to speak to your friends and family about mental health, and participate in the #GETLOUD conversation online.

There is no health without mental health.


The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

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