Mamadosewin (meeting place, walking together)

Mental Health Week

Mental Health Week

Mental Health Week

Hon. Jane Cordy: 

Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize Mental Health Week in Canada. Slowly but surely, we as a society are realizing the importance of taking care of our mental health. We know that our mental well-being is equal to that of our physical well-being, and that a fracture in one can result in problems for the other.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of this awakening are the many people, including well-known actors, athletes, writers and politicians who are speaking about their own struggles with poor mental health. This has helped tremendously in removing the stigma that has been associated with difficulties related to mental health.

We know that 20 per cent of Canadians — that is one in five people — will suffer from poor mental health at some point in their lives. The struggle can last from two weeks to two months or two years, and in some cases it may be something that a person works with for the rest of their lives. If we also consider the impact on friends and family, it is easy to see that mental health touches the lives of most Canadians.

Honourable senators, we are not always aware of what other people are dealing with in their personal lives. We know people in our families, workplaces and neighbourhoods who are living with poor mental health. It is important that we learn to support those who may need our help.

There are a number of organizations and groups that are doing their part to end the stigma of mental illness and to offer help. Here, in the Senate, we have the Senate Mental Health Advisory Committee with a mental health web page on IntraSen.

I would also like to highlight an event taking place here in Ottawa on Saturday, May 11. It is called Darkness Into Light. It is a 5-kilometre walk/run for self-harm and suicide awareness and prevention. It is an early-morning experience that begins in the darkness at 5:00 am, as people walk or run a 5-kilometre route while dawn is breaking. It is a powerful experience that reminds us that no one walks alone and that it is possible to move from despair to hope, from darkness into light. The event will be taking place at Britannia Park. All funds go to support the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa, which offers various services and immediate support, including mental health services to thousands of youth in crisis. I want to thank the organizers and participants of Darkness Into Light events that are taking place across the country.

Honourable senators, during Mental Health Week, I would also like to recognize the work that has been done by our colleague Senator Dr. Kutcher in the field of adolescent mental health. Senator Kutcher is a leader in mental health research, training and policy. He has been recognized as a Champion of Mental Health by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health. He has received the Order of Nova Scotia and the Naomi Rae-Grant Award from the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. As Senator Coyle told us last week, Senator Kutcher recently received his honourary doctorate from StFX. University for his work in mental health.

Honourable senators, let us all continue to work to reduce the stigma of mental illness. Let us be proactive and protective in the care of our mental well-being and make mental health a deliberate part of our self-care routine. Thank you.