With the federal election officially underway, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is challenging all parties to lead a factual, respectful debate on mental health to address the urgent needs of 7.5 million Canadians living with mental illness.
The language used in this debate is just as important as the debate itself. That’s why the MHCC is releasing resources today to help candidates and leaders in their discussions with voters on the doorstep, at town halls, and during debates. A handbook is also being sent to newsrooms across the country to help journalists covering mental health issues in the campaign.
“Despite the progress we’ve made as a country in bringing mental health out of the shadows, too many conversations are still shaped by unhelpful, stigmatizing stereotypes,” said Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO. “All parties, candidates and the public need to remember that when speaking about mental health, language matters. We know that stigma costs lives and we must challenge ourselves to eliminate it.”
Too often, Canadians who live with mental health problems don’t seek help for fear of being labelled, humiliated and shunned. Those who do come forward often have a hard time simply accessing treatment – in some cases, having to wait up to 18 months for necessary help.
We can no longer afford to treat physical and mental health as separate issues. With a $50 billion-dollar dent to the Canadian economy every year and too many lives lost daily, now is the time to refocus the national spotlight on these important issues.
“While recent investments have been made, it will take a bold combination of funding increases, innovation and systemic reform to not only make up for the decades of not doing so but to make sure access to mental and physical health care are given the same priority,” said Bradley. “With lives being lost every day, the government can and must lead.”
As a federal, arms-length agency whose mandate is to take a national perspective on mental health, the MHCC is eager to work with the parliamentarians to achieve this long-overdue reform and to build solutions that will make a real difference for Canadians in need.
- Every day, 11 people in this country die by suicide.
- Every week, 500,000 Canadians do not go to work due to a mental health problem or illness and this year, nearly 7.5 million Canadians are living with mental illness.
- The economic cost of mental illness in Canada is staggering — at least $50 billion per year.
- Wait times for therapy in some parts of the country can be up to 18 months.
- 1.6 million Canadians report that their need for mental health care is only partially met or not met at all.
Mental Health Commission of Canada
613-683-3748 / firstname.lastname@example.org