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Mental health is everyone’s concern

Submitted by Nancy Daley Fulton (Fort Frances branch, CMHA)

The next time you are in line at the grocery store, look around you.

How many people do you see? Five? 10?

What if you were told that two of those 10 people have, or will have, a mental illness? Mental illness can affect anyone at any time.

Mental illness, of any type, affects a person’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviours–how they see themselves, see the world around them, and how they interact in that world.

One-in-five Canadians, over the course of their lives, will experience a mental illness. And what that ultimately means is that every single family in Canada will be affected in some way.

And yet the reluctance to talk about mental illness, to acknowledge it openly, to treat it as a form of human suffering like any other illness, relates in part to how threatening this set of illnesses is to our sense of who we are.

Some of the impacts:

  • mental illness affects people of any age, gender, race, religious affiliation, or socio-economic level;
  • the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2020, depression will become the second-leading cause worldwide of years lost due to disability;
  • almost 4,000 people a year in Canada die from suicide (suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged 15-24);
  • mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the world, and five of the 10 leading causes of disability are related to mental disorders;
  • mental illness costs the Canadian economy $51 billion a year and each day 500,000 people will miss work due to mental illness; and
  • the unemployment rate among people with serious mental illness is 70-90 percent.

For more information, contact your local Canadian Mental Health Association at 274-2347 or visit www.cmhaff.ca

Editor’s note: May 7-13 is Mental Health Week.

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