Mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. It affects your physical health and your quality of life. It can allow or prevent you from working or raising a family. It affects your ability to recover from illness or traumatic event. And each year, one in five Canadians will experience a diagnosable mental health problem or illness.
The point of Mental Health Awareness Week is to separate mental health from “the other” – it’s not just something that other people deal with. The Canadian Mental Health Association’s theme this year is Mental Health For All. 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lives, regardless of age, education, income level or culture.
We all understand the cost of our health care but do we actually see the whole cost? Mental illness costs the Canadian economy $8.5 billion a year in health costs, short and long term disability and lost productivity (not taking into increased policing costs). It is estimated that each day 500,000 people in Canada miss work due to mental health concerns.
It is stigma and discrimination that prevents people from speaking out, from finding support. Over this week I hope to change that even if just for one person. I will be writing about mental health issues for children and teens, policing issues, and what happens when it comes to the nursing home.
The National Mental Health Strategy will be out tomorrow. It’s been 5 years of research for recommendations on how to move forward with mental health issues in Canada. There should be some interesting ideas coming forward soon.
If you find yourself needing someone to reach out to please contact your local distress line (in London 519-667-6711) or the Canadian Mental Health Association (in London 519-434-9191). Or send me a message and we’ll talk. Remember, anyone coping with mental health concerns can use some support sometimes, whether you’re the survivor, family member, friend or employer.