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Canada hosts panel on mental health at the World Health Assembly

May 20, 2013
For immediate release

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Experts from Canada, the US, Australia, Chile and Ethiopia took part on a panel at the World Health Assembly today to share their experiences and innovative approaches in addressing mental health.

Hosted by the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, panellists representing sectors both inside and outside of government, provided success stories on how various sectors of society can work together to promote mental well-being, prevent mental disorders and support recovery.

“Addressing mental health requires the combined efforts of all levels of government, health professionals, communities, workplaces and individuals,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “We need to reach out to these groups and explore how we can work more collaboratively.”

Mary Deacon, Canada’s representative on the panel and Chair of the Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative, provided a private sector perspective. Bell Canada has committed over $62 million to promote and improve Canadian mental health through national anti-stigma campaigns and funding for new care, research and corporate workplace initiatives.

“Bell is very pleased to participate in this discussion about mental health at the World Health Assembly. Mental illness is one of the most pervasive yet misunderstood health issues, and is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada,” said Ms. Deacon. “Fighting the stigma by growing the conversation about mental health – the focus of the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day – is crucial to improving care and ensuring a healthier society and economy.”

“More than one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness in their lifetime,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “Helping Canadians better understand the impact of their mental health on their overall well-being is critical to improving health outcomes in this country.”

The Government of Canada continues to make significant investments in mental health that directly contribute to improved mental health of children, youth and their families. Recently the Government committed up to $100 million in matched funding to support Canadian neuroscience research by establishing the Canada Brain Research Fund, in partnership with Brain Canada and with support from Bell, to advance the knowledge and treatment of brain disease and mental disorders.

In addition, the Government of Canada’s ongoing financial support to the Mental Health Commission of Canada led to the release of Canada’s first mental health strategy. Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada, released in May 2012, drew on the wisdom and experience of thousands of Canadians and was designed to help all jurisdictions and sectors improve mental health outcomes.

The World Health Assembly is the main governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), representing over 194 countries. Canada has been a member of the WHO since its inception in 1948.

Media Enquiries
Health Canada

Cailin Rodgers
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Public Enquiries