In honour of National Mental Health Awareness Week, I would like to take a moment to share some of the valuable educational resources available through Ottawa Public Health (OPH) pertaining to ensuring residents remain not only physically healthy, but mentally as well.
The stigma surrounding mental illness is slowly starting to dissipate but it is far from dissolved. As community members, we still have a long way to go before the fear and feelings of shame from those who suffer silently can be treated in the same manner as physical illness.
As Chair of the Board of Health, I am thrilled to announce that this week Ottawa Public Health, with the support of Bell Let’s Talk, have launched an expanded “have THAT talk” mental health promotional video series.
I would like to thank the “have THAT talk” program coordinator, Ben Leiken and the entire OPH team for all of their hard work on the program. I would also like to thank the professional panel in attendance at the launch event for ensuring its success, including Chair of the “Bell Let’s Talk” mental health initiative, Mary Deacon; Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Epidemiology, Dr. Ian Colman; Director of the Youth Mental Health Research Unit at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, Dr. Ian Manion; and Psychiatrist at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital, Dr. Azaad Kassa.
The “have THAT talk” campaign/video series was first launched in 2012 for parents, and the videos and resources centred on “how parents can talk about mental health with their kids”. Since then, it has expanded to include psychological standards in the workplace.
The 5 new videos, along with an activity guide, explore the topics: How to Talk about Your Mental Health; Reducing Stigma; Building Resilience; Caring for yourself, the Caregiver; and Building Social Connections.
The videos offer skills and suggestions about safe ways to talk about your own mental health and how to support others when they come forward and share their challenges with you. They talk about how you can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health as well as strategies to care of yourself or someone in need.
One in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. It could be you or someone you care about. It is everyone’s responsibility to take action to reduce stigma, increase support, and encourage people to get help sooner.
As busy individuals, it is sometimes easy to forget how meaningful our everyday interactions can be. Simple words such as “how are you?” can bear significant power when you truly listen to the response.
I highly encourage all residents to take an opportunity to review the videos by visiting haveTHATtalk.ca
It is crucial that we work together as a community to educate people about the nature of mental illness and how to get support. We all have a role to play.