Positive mental health is the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.
Yet, differences in economic circumstances, education, living conditions and the physical environment can prevent a proportion of our population from achieving optimal mental health and well-being.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20% of the population will experience a mental disorder at some time in their lives.
This means that every family in Canada will in some way be affected.
The good news is that people with mental illness can and do get better and the vast majority recover.
Next week, May 7 to 13, is Mental Health Week. As a former city councillor, as a Member of Parliament and as a member of our community I want to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the many people, both professionals and volunteers, who are dedicated to helping our community achieve better mental health for all.
It isn’t easy and it isn’t always successful. Mental health issues are some of the most difficult we deal with in our community and are often linked with equally challenging issues including poverty, homelessness, and addiction problems.
As the seminal 2006 Senate report “Out of the Shadows At Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada” said, “We know how difficult it will be to improve the lives of people living with mental illness. We know it will be tougher still to change deep-seated public attitudes and reduce the stigma and discrimination they face. To put each of them on the road to recovery will be an extraordinary challenge. Yet we are optimistic that the time has come when meaningful change can, and will, be made. From coast to coast we have met politicians, government officials, mental health service providers and professionals, and many, many ordinary Canadians, who are willing to help make change a reality, to help bring people living with mental illness into the mainstream of Canadian society.”
When I look at the long list of local organizations working to provide support to those in need, I know our community is on the right track. We have made progress because of the efforts of organizations that include: our local Canadian Mental Health Association branch, our help and crisis lines, our shelters, foodbank and drop in centres, our youth and family organizations like the Crossroads Treatment Centre, CATCH and ARC, various churches and street ministries, victims services, the John Howard Society, the Elizabeth Fry Society, and of course our first responders including local police, paramedics, hospital staff and doctors.
These organizations and others right across the country are part of a vast system of support that include municipal, regional, provincial and national government programs which effectively address the mental health of Canadians.
On an individual basis we can support our local organizations and we can take care of those around us including our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours. Sometimes the smallest gesture of kindness or reaching out and sharing our own personal stories can make a difference to those who don’t believe things can get better. They can – and with our continued support – they will.
The key to continued success is to see others and their stories as our own – our families, our society, and our responsibility. If we do, we have taken a major step toward a healthier society by accepting that we are all part of the solution.
Ron Cannan is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country. Should you wish to discuss any matter related to the federal government, please do not hesitate to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 250-470-5075.