London, Ontario, June 27, 2013 – The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) Vice Chair Patrick Dion is lending his support to a project in London, Ontario that seeks to spark change by listening to and amplifying local voices about mental health issues.

Dion participated in today’s launch that will use technology and media as a catalyst for a summer long conversation about mental health and stigma. The effort was organized by UnLondon Digital Media Association, Goodwill Industries and a group of local mental health service providers. Together they will borrow from UnLondon’s mantra: Gather (information, resources), Create (solutions, tools), and Improve (attitudes, perception) to guide the project.

“We are going to the community, to organizations and even to the streets to capture the many voices in our community about this issue,” says Jennifer Hill, Project Manager, Crazy About Mental Health. “We want to hear from all affected – supporters, service providers, people experiencing mental health issues. Through digital and social mediums we will bring those voices back to our community to better understand what is needed here to improve openness and willingness to talk about, and seek care for, mental health issues.  It is our goal to have mental health and its impact as understood, accepted and talked about as cancer,” says Shelly Siskind, Chair, Crazy About Mental Health.

Dion provided an update on several projects of the MHCC during the event, including the Mental Health Strategy for Canada, the country’s first ever national mental health strategy which is aimed at creating system that truly meets the needs of people living with mental health problem and illness and their families.  The Strategy recently marked the first anniversary since its release.

He also discussed developments at the MHCC in the areas of workplace mental health promotion, stigma research and Mental Health First Aid.

“Today’s event in London was held to begin a local social movement to talk about how stigma leads to silencing open conversation about mental health, causing many issues such as a reluctance to seek care and judgment from others about what is an all too common issue,” says Dion. “With one in five people in Canada experiencing a mental health problem or illness in any given year, it’s affecting us all in some way, whether through a family member, a friend or elsewhere in the community. I think conversations like the one taking place today are an important part of the process to improve services.”

The local project, named Crazy about Mental Health, is being supported by an $80,000 grant from the London Community Foundation. Part of the inspiration for the grant came from research indicating the volume of mental health investigations that London Police respond to increased by 12% from 1,411 calls in 2005 to 1,574 in 2009.

Contact:

Jennifer Hill, Project Manager
Crazy About Mental Health
Office: 519-933-0377
Jenn@unlondon.ca        

Kyle Marr, Senior Communication Specialist
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Office: (403) 385‐4050
Cell: (587) 226‐8782
kmarr@mentalhealthcommission.ca