Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

Spread Mental Health Awareness

The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For this reason, I want to help bring awareness to mental health. It is important that those who do not have a mental illness understand that the illness we have might not be visible, but it is definitely affecting us. Let us all be kind to all those around us. We do not know what kind of internal battles someone is fighting.

For those of us who do have a mental illness, I encourage you to share with your friends and family. I know sharing isn’t easy to do, but for those who can, tell a friend, a family member, or even a coworker about what you may be going through. If you don’t feel like sharing something about yourself you can still bring awareness to mental health in general. Let everyone know it’s Mental Health Awareness Month. We should encourage those who do not have much information to read about how mental health affects us all.

Why Mental Health Matters

Health Triangle - Physical, Mental, Social

Overall health is a complete state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. All three are interlinked and an impact in one of those states can impact the other two. Most people are probably aware that their mental health can affect your social wellbeing. But most don’t realize that if you have a mental illness it can cause and physical illness. Individuals with depression have a greater risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer.

1 in 5 Canadians will have a mental illness or addiction problem this year. However, 5 in 5 of us have mental health. Mental health is key to our wellbeing. We need it to wake up in the morning, get ready for school or work, to learn and perform our jobs, take care of our family, socialize and have fun. Mental health not only allows us to cope with the problems and challenges we may face in our life, such as stress, but it allows us to live the life we want and to enjoy every minute of it.

It is just as important for someone without a mental illness to take care of their mental health as someone with a mental illness. Pay attention to signs of stress, your emotions and mental wellbeing, and signs of being mentally drained. Mental illnesses come in all forms where people can experience vastly different symptoms and levels of severity. Mental illness does not discriminate and can affect everyone.

Who is Affected

Mental illness is all around us whether we see it or not. Mental illnesses will indirectly affect all Canadians, either through family, friends or colleague. 1 in 3 people in their lifetime will experience a mental illness. Mental illness does not discriminate against age, race, or gender.

Everyone has mental health; everyone is at risk of being affect by a mental illness. Some will be more at risk than others, either due to their environment, living conditions, quality of life, or even genetics and biology.

  • Individuals with a long-term medical condition are more likely to also experience a mental illness and vice-versa

  • Canadians with a mental illness are twice as likely to have a substance use problem

  • 86% of homeless people have a mental illness or substance use problem

20% of Canadian youths will experience a mental illness. Only 1 in 5 of those youths who need mental health services will actually receive it. By the age of 40, the number of people who will experience a mental illness goes up to 1 in 2.

Access to Services

  • Only 14% of individuals with a mental illness seek mental health services

  • Wait times for counselling and therapy can be long, especially for children and youth. Wait times of six months to one year are common.

Costs to Society

  • Mental illness is estimated to cost the Canadian economy an average of $42 billion per year.

  • In any given week, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems.

    • ~355,000 disability cases due to mental and/or behavioural disorders

    • ~175,000 full-time workers absent from work due to mental illness

  • The cost of a disability leave for a mental illness is about double the cost of a leave due to a physical illness

Mental Health Awareness Infographic

I have created an infographic for mental health awareness. I put together some facts about mental illnesses. Please feel free to download a copy for yourself and I encourage you to share this with everyone to help bring awareness to mental health and end the stigma!

Mental Health Awareness Month Infographic.png

Mental Health Awareness Infographic


Negative attitudes (prejudice) and negative responses (discrimination) can make a person feel unwanted and shamed (stigmatized).

Stigma = Prejudice + Discrimination

How Stigma Affects Us All

Stigma is the main reason Canadians with mental illnesses don’t seek mental health services. Stigma prevents 40% of people with depression or anxiety from seeking medical help. Stigma affects:

  • The wellbeing of those who experience it

  • Individuals while they are experiencing a mental illness, while they are healing, and even long after they no longer have the mental illness

  • How people feel about themselves and the way they see others


Using labels can contribute to stigma and the negative stereotypes associated with them.  When labels are used to stigmatize people, it can lead to discrimination and exclusion.  Don’t use labels such as:

Mental Illness Labels Word Cloud

The Reality of Mental Health Stigma

Only 50% of Canadians would tell friends or coworkers that they have a family member with a mental illness, compared to:

  • 72% who would talk about a diagnosis of cancer and

  • 68% who would talk about a family member having diabetes

In addition:

  • 46% of Canadians thought people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour

  • 42% of Canadians were unsure whether they would socialize with a friend who has a mental illness

  • 55% of Canadians said they would be unlikely to enter a spousal relationship with someone who has a mental illness

How to Reduce Stigma

  • Educate yourself about mental illnesses and educate others around you; pass on facts, positive attitudes, challenge myths and stereotypes

  • Be aware of how mental illnesses affect people’s attitudes and behaviour

  • Choose carefully how you speak to a person with a mental illness, offer support and encouragement, focus on the positives

  • Don’t use labels for people with mental illnesses

  • Talk openly about mental health

  • Include everyone, it’s against the law to deny jobs or services to anyone with mental issues

Stigma Infographic Thumbnail.png

End the Stigma Infographic

Mental Health & Substance Use Recovery

There are four factors that play a role to help people recover from a mental health or substance use problem.

Mental Illness Recovery Factors

Extra-Therapeutic Factors

This includes other components of someone’s life or environment outside of therapy that can contribute to recovery or affect change.  Some examples such as: faith, supportive family members, community involvement, or a job. 

Relationship Factors

The relationship with your psychiatrist, therapist or counsellor can contribute to a successful recovery.  The warmth, empathy, encouragement, and acceptance between your relationship is a key part of the recovery process.

Models & Techniques

Models & Techniques are the therapeutic methods, strategies, or tactics implemented by the psychiatrist, therapist or counsellor to move you to take some action to improve themselves or their situation.

Hope & Expectancy

A person’s hope and expectation they will improve can come from their support and relationships they have which can contribute to their recovery.

What You Can Do

Even if you don’t have a mental illness there are many things you can do for yourself to maintain your mental health.

Build a Healthy Self-Esteem

  • Identify your skills and abilities and what strengths you have

  • Identify what you have difficulty with or makes you feel frustrated

  • Build confidence by working on weaker areas and reminding ourselves of the things were good at and proud of doing.

Build Positive Support Networks

  • Make time for important people in your life

  • Make time for having fun and enjoying others company

  • Make time for having serious conversations and to connect

Get Involved in the Community

  • Reach out in your community and be a volunteer

  • Serve on a committee or board of your favourite charity

  • Simply help a neighbour

Recognize Your Emotions

  • Identify and deal with your emotions

  • Identify what can calm you down and what can lift you up


Data Blog. (2016, September 16). Retrieved from

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Fast Facts about Mental Illness. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Four factors that influence counselling effectiveness. (2018, April 11). Retrieved from

Mental Illness and Addiction: Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Mood Disorders Society of Canada. (2009, November). Mental Illness and Addiction in Canada. Retrieved from

Public Health Agency of Canada. (2017, September 15). About mental illness. Retrieved from

Public Health Agency of Canada. (2015, July 23). Report from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System: Mental Illness in Canada, 2015. Retrieved from

Rose, D., Thornicroft, G., Pinfold, V., & Kassam, A. (2007, June 28). 250 labels used to stigmatise people with mental illness. Retrieved from

Statistics Canada. (2015, November 27). Health at a Glance. Retrieved from

Statistics Canada. (n.d.). Mental Health Indicators. Retrieved from

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