By GWYDION MORRIS
Feb. 6, 2013
Everyone must play a part in removing the mental health stigma, Health Minister Doug Currie told students at Holland College Feb. 3.
The stigma attached to mental health must be removed before progress can be made to battle it, presenters said during the presentation.
Mental health issues will be put front and centre in the media by the government in the upcoming months to bring awareness to the illness.
Currie said it’s no different from any other problem Canadians may face.
“Mental health is an extremely important component of our health.”
One in five Canadians will struggle with their mental health and some will turn to drugs and alcohol to cope, said Currie. Sufferers must not be alone in their time of need.
“We all must realize our role in that support system.”
A new system is being set up by the provincial government to improve mental health services across the island. But the solution to this problem will come with time, said Currie.
“There’s no magic solution.”
Reid Burke, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association on P.E.I., said society needs to better understand mental health issues.
Twenty per cent of Canadians will struggle with their mental health, but they’re people just like you and I, said Burke.
“Mental illnesses are not a life sentence.”
Soldiers struggle the most after they return home from overseas. The things they’ve seen and might have done affect them, said Burke. But he said those are expected after seeing combat.
“Those are normal reactions to abnormal situations.”
Out of every five children who suffer mental health problems in school, only one will receive the help needed. Help at a young age can reduce mental health problems in the future by 70 per cent, said Burke.
Every day in Canada, 500,000 people miss work due to mental health problems, said Burke. This costs the economy $50 billion a year.
Only 20 per cent of Canadians said their mental health was good, 20 percent were struggling, and 60 per cent said their mental health was only OK, said Burke. There shouldn’t be groups when it comes to mental health between the sufferers and the non-sufferers, he added.
“It’s just us.”