Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 1 - 7, 2018) / World Mental Health Day (October 10, 2018)


Mental Illness Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day provide opportunities to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and to build support for people in need.

One in three Canadians will experience a mental illness or a substance use disorder in their lifetime. Yet stigma remains a barrier that prevents many from seeking or offering help. Speaking openly about mental health and providing a safe, barrier-free environment to do so is key to reducing stigma.

Recognizing that improving mental health and preventing mental illness is also global challenge, the Government of Canada has been engaging leaders from other countries and other sectors to share research and best practices, and to identify actions that can contribute to good mental health and address mental illness on a global level. Canada is proud to have co-founded, with the United Kingdom and Australia, the Alliance of Champions for Mental Health and Wellbeing. Countries from around the world are joining the Alliance, helping to advance the global mental health agenda, and working together to reduce stigma and discrimination towards people with mental illness through both domestic and international actions.

It is also important to consider how social, cultural and historical contexts can impact an individual or community’s mental health. For example, Black Canadians often face discrimination, racism and prejudice in various facets of their lives—through their education, in their careers and in dealings with the justice system. These experiences can have negative impacts on their mental and physical health. That is why we recently announced $10 million to help support more culturally focused approaches to improve mental health for Black Canadians while considering the significant and unique challenges they face. 

The Government of Canada continues to work with partners and stakeholders to put in place programs and initiatives that promote positive mental health, address the negative impacts of trauma, reduce stigma, and contribute to the prevention of mental illness and suicide.

We are working with the provinces and territories to improve access to timely, appropriate and cost-effective mental health services for Canadians and are investing $5 billion over ten years to support this initiative. Federal funding is being used, for example, to improve access to addiction services and address problematic opioid use in Newfoundland and Labrador. As well, Yukon will use federal funds to make greater use of mental health nurses in the emergency department of Whitehorse General Hospital to triage and coordinate referrals to community mental health and addiction programs.

The Government of Canada also invests more than $50 million annually in research to improve mental health services for children and youth. Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and in collaboration with federal and provincial partners, we continue to build the knowledge base around issues such as post-traumatic stress injuries among public safety officers, veterans, and our men and women in the Armed Forces.

All Canadians deserve equal opportunities to thrive, no matter their culture, religion, income level, education, ability, gender identity or skin colour. Let’s take this opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of positive mental health for everyone. I encourage you to start the dialogue in your community. Whether it is speaking about your own challenges with mental illness or offering support to someone in need, it all starts with a conversation.

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

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