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Mental illness awareness in spotlight

Mental Illness Awareness Week (Sept. 30-Oct. 6) is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness.

The week was established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and is now co-ordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health in co-operation with all its member organizations and many other supporters across Canada.

Campaign elements include:

•a grassroots public education initiative;

•a nationally-distributed poster and bookmark series; and

•the fifth-annual Champions of Mental Health Awards luncheon in Ottawa and an education initiative with federal MPs, both in their home ridings and on Parliament Hill.

One of our local community members has been selected as a “FACE” for mental illness this year. Susan Marshall of the CMHA, CanHelp Program in Fort Frances will among the delegates attending the awards luncheon in Ottawa this week.

She is a very strong and outspoken advocate for people with mental illness, and has lived with the challenges of bi-polar disorder for many years.

Her photo and story is featured on the Mental Illness Awareness website at www.miaw.ca

For too long, Canadians with mental illnesses have been in the shadows. Too few Canadians know about the burden of mental illness on our society, and too few sufferers seek help when they need it.

Mental Illness Awareness Week seeks to raise awareness of the level of mental illness in Canada, to reduce negative stigma about mental illness among the general population and health care professionals; and to promote the positive effects of best practice in prevention, diagnosis, and medical treatment.

Established in 1998, CAMIMH is an alliance of national organizations whose activities span the broad continuum of mental health.

They represent consumers and their families; health care and social service providers; professional associations; and community and research organizations.

Together, they constitute a vibrant network of national, provincial, and community-based organizations dedicated to serving the mental health needs of the people of Canada from coast to coast to coast.

CAMIMH’s mission is to promote and facilitate the development, adoption, and implementation of a national action plan on mental illness and mental health.

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