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Changing Directions, Changing Lives: Canada’s First Mental Health Blueprint Unveiled

Tuesday, May 8, 2012, Ottawa, ON – Canada’s first strategy to improve the mental health of all Canadians was publicly released today by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (Commission) during Mental Health Week. Following extensive consultations with thousands of Canadians through regional dialogues, online surveys, roundtables on key topics, and discussion groups with stakeholders, Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada will bring about real change for people from coast to coast to coast.

The Strategy focuses on improving mental health and well-being for all people living in Canada and on creating a mental health system that can truly meet the needs of people of all ages living with mental health problems and illnesses and their families.“We all have a stake. Mental health problems and illnesses affect us all – mother, father, child, friend, colleague. But the unfortunate power of stigma prevents the pain and costs of mental health problems and illnesses from receiving a level of attention and support other serious health issues do,” says Commission President and CEO Louise Bradley. “The launch of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada marks the first time that Canada has created a shared vision and set of priorities that will guide the efforts of the public and private sector, the service delivery sector and all Canadians to improve mental health outcomes.”

“Our government is proud to have established the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and recognizes the important achievements made by the Commission since it was created in 2007,” says the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. “The human cost of mental health problems and illnesses is dramatic and has a significant impact on the health and the economy of our country. The work of the Commission is already shaping decision-making in Ottawa concerning health research and initiatives. I encourage my provincial and territorial colleagues, business leaders, and community leaders to review the Strategy, and look for opportunities to apply recommendations in areas of their own jurisdiction. I look forward to collaborating with all partners on these important issues.”

Changing Directions, Changing Lives draws on unprecedented input from thousands of Canadians and puts forward the best possible balance of different perspectives and will enable everyone to contribute to the improvement of mental health outcomes. It sets out recommendations for change that promise to improve quality of life for Canadians in every province and territory, grouping them into six key strategic directions:

• Promote mental health across the lifespan in homes, schools and workplaces, and prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible;
• Foster recovery and well-being for people of all ages living with mental health problems and illnesses, and uphold their rights;
• Provide access to the right combination of services, treatments and supports, when and where people need them;
• Reduce disparities in risk factors and access to mental health services, and strengthen the response to the needs of diverse communities and Northerners;
• Work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to address their mental health needs, acknowledging their distinct circumstances, rights and cultures; and,
• Mobilize leadership, improve knowledge and foster collaboration at all levels.

“Mental health problems and illnesses cost Canada more than $50 billion every year. We have made some progress, but more needs to be done to improve how we deal with mental illness in this country – we are still very far from where we need to be,” says Commission Chair David Goldbloom, MD. “Everyone has a role to play and that is why today’s call to action is intended for every government, corporation, organization, community, service provider and Canadian to rally around the goals and priorities in the Strategy.”


The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together, we are sparking change.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.

For information:

Jacquie LaRocque, Ensight Canada
Cell.: (613) 614-6339
Email : [email protected]