Raising awareness of mental health issues

October 9, 2008

Making a Difference

Today is World Mental Health Day, which is observed in 100 countries around the world.

It was my pleasure to host the 9th annual Mayor’s Initiative for World Mental Health Day. The initiative was begun in 2000 by former Mayor Joe Young. We have continued the tradition ever since.

While we have come a long way in our understanding of mental illness, there is still a stigma associated with it.

A couple of months ago, I read about a poll the Canadian Medical Association commissioned on Canadian attitudes toward mental illness.

The results were shocking: 

  • Only 50% of respondents said they would tell a friend that a family member has a mental illness, compared to 72% who would disclose a cancer diagnosis
  • 55% said they would not marry someone who has a mental illness
  • 27% said they are fearful of being around people experiencing serious mental illness
  • Almost half of Canadians (46%) think the term “mental illness” is used as an excuse for bad behaviour

That last figure was particularly relevant to our discussion today about mental health and the justice system.   

We know that one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in his or her lifetime.  It is so pervasive that most of us will be touched by it in some way, whether through a family member, friend, or co-worker.

So, while mental illness is common in our society, there is still clearly a deep-rooted stigma about it. In order to break through that stigma, it is important that we talk about mental health issues as a community.  That is what we did today.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

Connect with the City of Guelph

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: