Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole today marked Mental Health Week in Canada by highlighting mental health help is always there for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel, veterans and RCMP members.
The Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) Mental Health Week encourages people from all walks of life to learn, talk, reflect and engage others on issues relating to mental health and mental illness.
“Veterans Affairs Canada is proud to partner with the CMHA and the Mental Health Commission of Canada to create awareness of veteran’s mental health care needs and to ensure a continuum of services exists to effectively address their needs now and in the future,” said Erin O’Toole, Veterans Affairs Minister.
CAF personnel and veterans are encouraged to join in and to talk about mental health with their colleagues, friends and families.
O’Toole would like veterans and CAF personnel living with mental health conditions to know that they are not alone. Help is available for those struggling with an operational stress injury (OSI) or any other type of mental health problem. The earlier a veteran or CAF member seeks help, the sooner his or her recovery can begin.
The department will continue to work closely with its partners, according to O’Toole, and to make significant investments to ensure that mental health programs and services continue to be accessible and are there for those who need them.
The Government of Canada recognizes the seriousness of mental illness among veterans and CAF personnel, as well as its impact on their families, and it remains a top priority for Veterans Affairs Canada, the Department of National Defence and the CAF.
Recently a number of announcements have been made by O’Toole to further support mental health needs, including the expansion of the VAC Assistance Service to provide more short-term psychological counselling services, from 8 to 20 sessions per issue, to veterans and their families.
On May 7 and 8, 2015, stakeholders in veteran’s mental health from across the country will convene at the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), in Ottawa, to develop a Mental Health First Aid curriculum specifically based on the needs of veterans. VAC also partners with the MHCC and CMHA to deliver the veteran-specific Mental Health First Aid across the country.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, such as the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Mental Health Association, with whom we are working hand in hand to promote positive mental health among Canadians and the people we serve across the country. Working together during Mental Health Week ensures this forward momentum continues,” said O’Toole.
The Government of Canada is investing in new and expanded mental health initiatives for veterans, serving military members, and their families including a new Mental Health Services for Veterans Action Plan to further improve the continuum of mental health supports and services provided to veterans and their families.
The Operational Stress Injury Clinic Network is also being expanded and enhanced with the addition of a new Halifax clinic, an expanded clinic in the Toronto area, and a new Montréal satellite. By 2015, the cross-Canada Operational Stress Injury Clinic Network will offer eleven operational stress injury clinics, nine satellites and seven Department of National Defence mental health clinics.
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