Thursday, April 29, 2010

Media Advisory - Story opportunities during Mental Health Week

A media advisory from the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
CALGARY, April 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Next week is Mental Health Week (May 3 -9, 2010). You can speak with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) for a national perspective on mental health issues and to find out more about its initiatives. Here are some of the issues the MHCC is tackling:

More than one thousand off the streets

In February 2008 the Federal government allocated $110million to the MHCC to undertake a 4 year research demonstration project looking at mental health and homelessness, called At Home/Chez Soi. The initiative is working in 5 cities across Canada (Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Moncton) to find ways to more effectively help people with mental illness who are homeless.

It is estimated that 25-50% of people who are homeless have a mental illness. Homelessness also costs the system up to $6 billion per year for health, criminal justice and social services.

Stigma: still the biggest barrier

Opening Minds is the MHCC's 10-year anti-stigma/anti-discrimination initiative designed to change the attitudes and behaviours of Canadians towards those living with mental illness. Launched in October 2009, the initiative is the largest systematic effort to reduce the stigma of mental illness in Canadian history. Opening Minds is focusing on three target groups: Youth (early intervention can make an enormous difference in reducing stigma), health care workers (stigma is mostly experienced on the medical front lines) and workforce (many employees choose to go untreated then risk being labeled by their employer).

The stigma of mental illness is one of the key reasons people with mental health issues report they would not seek help. Since more than seven million people will experience mental health problems this year alone in Canada, this is a significant issue.

Developing first Mental Health Strategy for Canadaever Mental Health Strategy for Canada

The MHCC is developing Canada's first ever mental health strategy. After an extensive national public consultation, the Commission released the document Toward Recovery and Well-Being in November 2009, which introduces the Commission's vision for change and the actions needed to address the mental health needs of Canadians. This document forms the framework for what will become Canada's first ever mental health strategy.

The MHCC is a non-profit organization created to focus national attention on mental health issues. It is funded by the federal government but operates at arm's length from all levels of government. The Commission's objective is to enhance the health and social outcomes for Canadians living with mental health problems and illnesses.

For further information: Karleena Suppiah, Communications Specialist, (403) 385-4050 (office), (403) 370-3835 (cell),

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