It’s time Canada to Get Loud and actively participate in this year’s Mental Health Week (MHW) 2016. Started by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) , each year this week contributes to breaking the silence on mental health.
Mental health challenges, like for many Canadians, is something that touch the lives of many military members and their families. Recognizing the significance of celebrating a week like this, Canada’s Minister of Veteran’s Affairs, Kent Hehr, and Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, put out the following joint statement:
“This week, May 2 to 8, we mark the 65th anniversary of Mental Health Week in Canada – an annual national event that offers practical ways to maintain and improve mental health and encourages all Canadians to learn, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health. We applaud the Canadian Mental Health Association for its work in raising awareness and support for mental health initiatives.
“The reputation of our Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans precedes them. As Canadians, we are proud of our brave men and women in arms and their demonstration of exemplary service to our country. This service can come with unique physical and mental challenges. That is why we have to emphasize the importance of mental health, just as much as we do physical health and fitness.
“Canadian Armed Forces personnel, Veterans, and their families can access free, confidential counselling, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at the Member Assistance Program by calling 1-800-268-7708 or TDD 1-800-567-5803.
“This week, we encourage Veterans and CAF members to take stock of their well-being, and take the right steps to optimize their mental health,” said the statement.
MHW has been celebrated annually in the first full week of May since 1951. MHW events and activities are held across Canada as a way to reinforce the importance of maintaining and improving mental health.
In line with this year’s tagline, #Getloud, the CMHA has outlined ten ways Canadians can Get Loud and show their support. For example, the CHMA explains that wearing green can show support and turning a 19th century taboo on its heels. In the early 1800s people labelled as “insane” had to wear a green label.
Canadians can also chose to strive for concrete action by getting loud for more mental health and support services from the government or a more healthier workplace. Other ways Canadians can Get Loud include speaking up, being there for a friend, getting help, demonstrating through art, hosting an event, getting on social media or donating to the CMHA.
“We all have a responsibility to raise our awareness about mental health. We must actively encourage honest and open conversations – in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities – about what mental health is and what we can do to increase our collective well-being. We must listen to our loved-ones, our colleagues, our friends, look out for signs and offer them support and advice in times of need. It can be a challenge for all of us to cope with the fast pace of life, daily stresses, and obligations. We all need to stand strong together,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement.
He later went on to say:
“Let us use our voices this week to help change the way society views mental health issues and those living with them. Now is the time to GET LOUD for mental health.”
The CAF offers several resources for mental health. The CAF has specific Mental Health Programs including a Psychosocial Program that entails brief intervention, crisis intervention, addictions counselling and pre-deployment screening.
The CAF also supports Operational and Trauma Stress Support Centres at several bases across the country. The OTSSC provide assessment and individual or group treatment for members experiencing trauma from operational duties.
Other programs for CAF personnel include OSIS, a peer support group.
For more information about CAF mental health programs visit the Forces website.