Mental Health First Aid for the Veteran Community

To mark the 65th annual Mental Health Week, the Economic Club of Canada held a compelling panel discussion centered on the mental health of Canadian veterans.

“For those affected by operational stress injuries including PTSD, depression and anxiety, progress is never fast enough,” says Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) President and CEO Louise Bradley, who was joined at the May 3 event by the Hon. Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Bradley highlighted work the MHCC is leading to connect former servicemen and women and their families to the resources they need to address mental health problems and illnesses.

One such tool is a project aimed to adapt Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) for the veteran community. Led by the MHCC, with funding from Veterans Affairs Canada, this initiative helps empower veterans and their families to recognize and address mental health concerns. 

“It’s no secret that drive and perseverance are critical on the battlefield,” says Bradley. “But these values can become ingrained, resulting in resistance to seek help for psychological trauma.”

Veterans face a number of unique mental health concerns. Deployment, especially to high-risk locations, can lead to a higher incidence of mental health problems or illnesses. The same is true for the transition from military to civilian life.

MHFA for Members of the Veteran Community is focused on:

  • Tackling stigma and discrimination;
  • Increasing knowledge; and,
  • Improving assistance with addictions and mental health problems.

The MHCC plans to train 48 instructors across Canada in both official languages, who will then teach courses to more than 3,000 members of the veteran community.

“If we ignore the mental wellness of our veterans, our national pride is on the line,” says Bradley. “Looking after their health — both physical and mental — is the least we can do.”

To learn more about Mental Health First Aid programs, please visit: www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/mental-health-first-aid