Mental health in the Defence community is important and we must continue to engage in conversation about mental health and its effects. The Defence Team is again participating in the national discussion on mental health as part of the Bell Let’s Talk Day initiative, tomorrow January 28, 2015.
By learning more about mental health, we can take steps to help ourselves and others with mental illness, and to help reduce the stigma of mental illness in the workplace, in our homes and in our communities.
We each have a different experience and connection with mental illness, some very personal. And while some may be comfortable openly discussing mental health in public, others may prefer to have quiet conversations amongst friends and family.
Through DND/CAF social media, we have asked the Defence Team to pose questions about mental health and suggest ways to reduce stigma. Tomorrow, these questions and ideas will be discussed by a mental health panel in Ottawa as part of Bell Let’s Talk Day, but the conversation will not stop there. We will post fresh ideas online, and we encourage members to continue bringing forward their ideas on mental health and on reducing stigma. We are listening.
We encourage all commanders, managers, and team leaders to talk openly about mental health in the workplace. These conversations may challenge your understanding and attitudes about mental health, and may relate closely to your own lives. Even if you have not experienced mental illness, chances are someone close to you has, or will have, a mental illness at some point in their lives.
We also encourage you, as members of the Defence Team, to participate in Bell Let’s Talk Day. For every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, and every Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk Day image at Facebook.com/BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate five cents to programs dedicated to mental health.
We are proud of the work we have done so far to lower barriers to seeking care and reduce stigma, but there is certainly more work to be done. We all need to continue to be aware of and address mental health issues as soon as they arise. We have a collective responsibility to watch for changes in behaviour in our brothers and sisters in arms, our colleagues, our friends, and our family members. We encourage those in need to reach out immediately. Help is available from health clinics, from the employee and member assistance programs and, in emergencies, at your local emergency room or by calling 911.
Each and every one of us are part of the Defence Team and we are here to support each other.
Visit the Bell Let’s Talk website (http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/) to find out more about how you can participate in this important initiative.
General Tom Lawson Bill Jones
Chief of the Defence Staff Acting Deputy Minister