Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 1 – 7, 2017) and World Mental Health Day (October 10, 2017)

Mental Illness Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day provide an opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of mental health in our everyday lives and what we can do to support people living with mental illness. Consider the following statistics:

  • One in three Canadians will experience a mental illness or substance use disorder in their lifetime;
  • More than 10 Canadians die by suicide each day;
  • Suicide rates among Indigenous youth are among the highest in the world;
  • Only 57% of Canadian adults and 43% of Canadian youth report a high capacity to cope  with unexpected and difficult problems and day-to-day demands; and
  • Hardship, trauma, family violence and stigma have been linked to an increased risk of suicide, substance use and mental illness.

Throughout my career, I have been a strong advocate for mental health, suicide prevention and family violence prevention. Maintaining and improving our mental health and wellbeing requires all of us to work together to promote mental health, prevent mental illness and support access to timely and high quality treatment. As Canada’s new Minister of Health, I am pleased to have the opportunity to champion mental health initiatives on behalf of the Government of Canada.

The Government of Canada collaborates with a wide network of Canadians, governments and private and not-for-profit organizations on mental health research, promotion, prevention and support, as well as on providing access to services. This includes investing $5 billion over ten years to improve access to timely, appropriate and cost-effective mental health services for Canadians across all provinces and territories. It also includes funding the Mental Health Commission of Canada to support mental health awareness and care. The Government also invests more than $50 million annually in mental health research to improve mental health services for children and youth.

We’re also working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders in Canada, with a focus on promoting mental health, and preventing mental illness and suicide. In Budget 2017, our government committed to supporting First Nations and Inuit communities with an additional $204 million over five years to improve mental health services, building on $69 million announced in 2016 to support community-based workers and mental wellness teams.

This October, please join me in raising awareness about the importance of mental health. We all have a role to play in promoting mental health and eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness, addiction and suicide. Through my experience, particularly in supporting those in distress, I have learned that by talking about these issues and ensuring the appropriate supports and services are in place, we can build positive, resilient and stigma-free communities.

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress, or may be at risk of suicide, and need assistance:

Related Links:

Government of Canada – mental health and wellness
First Nations and Inuit Mental Health and Wellness
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health


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