WesForYouth ready for Canadian Mental Health Awareness week

Kaitlin Pelletier Elite Dance Force co-owner  co-director and Valerie King Algoma Family Services family engagement worker at the Child Youth and Adult Mental Health week kickoff ceremony held outside the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse

Kaitlin Pelletier Elite Dance Force co-owner co-director and Valerie King Algoma Family Services family engagement worker at the Child Youth and Adult Mental Health week kickoff ceremony held outside the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse

May marks the 70th anniversary of national Mental Health Awareness Month, which began in 1949 to raise awareness and combat stigma.

This comes amid rising rates of mental illness worldwide, and is one of six recommendations outlined by a new national CMHA policy paper titled Cohesive, Collaborative, Collective: Advancing Mental Health Promotion in Canada.

"Mental illness is a big term that encompasses a lot of things", Hannon said.

"Whether healthcare is for physical or mental health conditions, "care is care" and people with mental health conditions and addiction issues aren't getting what they need to achieve and maintain good health", said Eunice Collette, president of the local NAMI affiliate.

Odell said the walk was more than raising awareness regarding mental health.

There are a few barriers to receiving mental health services in some cases.

Mental health promotion efforts, such as suicide-prevention programs and community-based skills training on managing anger, reducing stress and addressing risky behaviours, are proven to improve population mental health and reduce public- and private-sector expenditure on mental health care and treatment.

"That's come true in many areas of the country. Our area is designated as a mental health professional shortage area because we don't have enough psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors to help treat everybody who has a mental illness or has mental health concerns", Hannon said. According to nami.org., those who experience mental illness are often labeled and seen as their condition and nothing more.

Central to the campaign is encouraging others to learn the facts about mental illness and reach out to someone who may be struggling. "The mental health-care system of the future is not just in clinics or hospitals-it's in workplaces and schools, serving entire populations and not just individual patients", says Dr. Smith.

"When we understand what mental health really is, we start to get that it's something we all have". Martin said that they will need to look to other resources to keep delivering their service.