Parliamentarians Champion Mental Health by Receiving Literacy Training

 The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) was pleased to deliver mental health literacy training to the Liberal Party Caucus on Sunday. This follows similar training that was delivered to the Conservative Party Caucus last summer.

Louise Bradley, President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada said, "We were thrilled by the response we received from the parties when we offered to provide their caucuses with mental health training. High-profile mental health champions allow everyone to see that the challenges they face are not only accepted but at times shared by those in leadership roles and that has an incredible impact on keeping mental health and wellness issues out of the shadows."

This latest session closely coincides with Bell Let's Talk Day, further amplifying the campaign's positive message to help end the stigma around mental health and wellness issues.

The training included course material from the MHCC's The Working Mind and Mental Health First Aid programs. The focus of the training was to better equip Parliamentarians as employers and as community leaders to help identify indicators of declining and poor mental health in themselves and others.

"Like all employers responsible for maintaining healthy workplaces where individuals can thrive, Members of Parliament must be aware of, and sensitive to, the signs of those who may be struggling owing to a mental health challenge. The Mental Health Commission of Canada's mental health literacy training is a valuable resource in providing Canadians with the insights and skills necessary to fashion work environments where everyone can contribute positively and fully," said Francis Scarpaleggia, Liberal Caucus Chair, Liberal Party of Canada.

David Sweet, Conservative Caucus Chair, Conservative Party of Canada stated, "Our Party is committed to promoting safe and healthy environments both for our staff and for our constituents. We were very pleased to receive this training so that our Conservative family can contribute to positively changing attitudes on mental health and wellness in Canada."

The MHCC has reached out to the NDP to deliver similar training.

Improving Youth Mental Health a Priority for Society and the Economy

Close to two million working Canadians have unmet mental health care needs that prevent them from performing at their highest potential. Among them, young Canadians living with depression and/or anxiety represent the highest cost to the Canadian economy in lost productivity. New research by The Conference Board of Canada suggests that reducing the barriers for young adults seeking treatment and support for mental illness could lead to significant long-term benefits.

"Mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of age. Canada must ensure its mental health agenda includes focused actions to address the mental health of all working Canadians, especially its youth who will be the workforce of tomorrow," said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada. "Canadian youth have more working years ahead of them and addressing mental illness earlier in life can improve their long-term mental health. This needs to be a priority for both our economy and society."


Focusing mental health programming on youth could lead to significant economic benefits.
Younger workers may experience more precarious employment where they may have limited or no access to workplace benefits coverage.
With optimal treatment and support, a young working Canadian aged 15 to 24 living with depression could increase their productivity by about $29,000 over their entire working life.
Mental illness can have a significant impact on workplace performance, contributing to absenteeism and presenteeism (coming to work while sick and consequently, working under suboptimal conditions). Previous Conference Board research estimated that if all employed Canadians living with depression received optimal treatment, over 1.2 million people could be working full-time and fully functional, contributing an additional $32.3 billion annually to the Canadian economy. Similarly, if all those living with anxiety received optimal treatment, an additional 545,000 Canadians who were previously unable to work would be able to enter the workforce, adding approximately $17.3 billion a year to the economy.

Healthy Brains at Work: Creating the Conditions for Healthy Brains in the Workplace examines the segments of Canada's working population that would benefit most from improved mental illness treatment. For a single year, the 45-64 age group represents the highest economic cost, due to their higher income and productivity levels. Over the long-term, however, it is the youngest cohort that has the largest economic impact as the reduced level of productivity persists for a much longer period if they have not recovered from their mental health issue.

The average worker in the 15-24 age group has approximately 40-45 years of work life remaining and their productivity would be improved by about $29,000 over their entire working life if they had access to optimal treatment and support. This compares with $23,500 in productivity gains for a worker aged 25-44, and a $9,500 gain for those 45-64. For anxiety, the productivity gain for a worker aged 15-24 would be about $16,200 higher over their entire working life, compared with $14,200 for the 25-44 age group and $6,200 for those aged 45-64.

Currently, young Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 are the most likely to have experienced mood disorders or major depressive episodes within the past year. Younger workers may experience more precarious employment (such as part-time or temporary work) where they may have limited or no access to workplace benefits coverage.

As youth transition into adulthood and enter the workforce, there are many touchpoints where mental health can be addressed. Understanding their needs, preferences, and the effectiveness of supports is essential, as they likely differ from other age cohorts. The briefing offers the following considerations:

Access to mental health supports at an early age is critical.
Supports during key life transition points, such as moving from high school to college or university, are needed.
Address gaps for those in precarious employment.
Ensure the supports provided are effective.
Healthy Brains at Work: Creating the Conditions for Healthy Brains in the Workplace is the last briefing of a four-part series that explores the importance of addressing mental health and mental illness in Canadian workplaces.

Today's Mental Health Day

KJ Mullins-Toronto: October 10 is a day that has been set aside to address global mental health. Breaking barriers and stigma has been a difficult step when it comes to helping those with mental health issues.

Virtually everyone on the global deals with some aspect of mental health at some time during their life, either by having their own issues or seeing problems within their families. For far too long society shamed those who were in crisis making it even more difficult to find help.

As more notable people come out of the shadows, including Prince Harry, with their own struggles there is positive progress underway to bring forth change.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "Today Canadians and people around the world reflect on the central role that mental health plays in our lives. On World Mental Health Day, we raise awareness about how to better address the mental health issues that affect us, our loved ones, our workplaces, and our communities.

"Mental health is a vital part of our overall wellbeing, and everyone deserves access to the mental health care and support they need. Today is a chance to celebrate the people who are working to make mental health care a reality around the world – and a reminder that all of us have a role to play to fight stigma and create cultures where we can talk openly about mental health. We also recognize the importance of the lived experience of those directly affected by a mental health issue, and of their loved ones. Their stories and voices must be at the core of efforts to improve mental health care for all."

This year's theme for Mental Health Day is Mental Health in the workplace. Trudeau stated, "Canada has made important advances in mental health care, and our Government is committed to continue to promote care, support, and services. Budget 2017 includes $5 billion over 10 years to support mental health initiatives across Canada – the first time the federal government has prioritized mental health in health agreements with provinces and territories. Last week, we launched a new suicide prevention strategy for our active service members and veterans, to make sure we are providing them with the best care possible. We are making major investments in housing and in jobs and skills training – because access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing and a well-paying job are critical factors in our health, both physical and mental. Budget 2017 also pledges over $200 million over the next five years to increase support for mental health services for First Nations and Inuit, building on Indigenous-led initiatives."

Louise Bradley, President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada said that in Canada mental health is a major factor in missed work with 500,000 calling in sick due to a problem or illness. "While the onus is on employers to create psychologically healthy workplaces, every employee should be encouraged to learn more about mental health and wellness, from engaging in prevention, to understanding the signs and symptoms of a mental health problem. The MHCC, in collaboration with Ottawa Public Health, has created videos based on the 13 factors that affect the psychological health and safety of workers. We encourage every employee to watch them and become more informed."

Work still needs to take place. People with a serious mental illness face the highest degree of stigmatization in the workplace, and the greatest barriers to employment. Up to 90% of those with serious mental health illnesses are unemployed. For those who are ready to enter the job market their illness has created hurdles including gaps in work history, limited employment experience, lack of confidence, fear and anxiety, workplace discrimination and inflexibility, social stigma, and the rigidity of existing income support/benefit programs.

"Over the past year we have heard very clearly from employment service providers that there is an increasing need for resources, and tools to effectively serve the needs of jobseekers with mental health issues in Ontario," says Dr. Trina Foster, Executive Director of OCWI. "By launching this project on World Mental Health Day, we hope not only to draw attention to the significant challenges that job seekers, service providers, and employers are facing, but also provide concrete, evidence-informed solutions for them
Torontonians Hit the Pavement in Support of Youth Mental Health
Over 9,000 Torontonians stepped forward in support of youth mental health; they ran, walked and cheered in the 2017 RBC Race for the Kids. Together they raised over $2.5 million in support of the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook, a unique program focused on connecting young people struggling with mental health and addiction with the services they need.

"The RBC Race for the Kids plays an essential role in not only raising funds to keep FNP's phone lines open, but in building awareness about youth mental health," said Dr. Anthony Levitt, medical director of the Family Navigation Project and chief of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program at Sunnybrook. "It's amazing what we can accomplish when we work together. I applaud the generosity, commitment and enthusiasm of RBC, as well as each and every one who walked and ran for the kids – our kids."

RBC Race for the Kids Toronto has attracted more than, 37,000 participants to date and raised over $9.8 million to support the Family Navigation Project (FNP) at Sunnybrook

In 2014, the FNP was founded by Dr. Anthony Levitt together with parents who were finding it difficult to navigate the complex mental health care system

FNP focuses on partnering youth (ages 13 to 26) and families with clinically trained professionals who conduct thorough assessments, analyze needs and provide expert navigation of the health care and social service system

Every month, FNP receives approximately 40 calls/referrals

To date, over 1,800 families have been helped
New study shows people with schizophrenia are dying younger
People with schizophrenia have a mortality rate that is three times greater each year than those without schizophrenia, and die on average, eight years earlier than people without schizophrenia according to a new Ontario study by researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

This study was published today in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

"Our study shows that individuals with schizophrenia are not benefitting from public health and health care interventions to the same degree as individuals without schizophrenia," says Dr. Paul Kurdyak, senior author, CAMH and ICES Scientist and Director of Health Outcomes with the Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA), which supported the study. "As health care providers, it is our responsibility to work together across our health care system to provide these patients with better, integrated physical and mental health care. By not doing so, there are dire, tragic consequences and shortened lives."

Researchers studied all deaths during the 20-year period between 1993 and 2012 in Ontario and examined the deaths annually. They identified all people with schizophrenia and categorized the deaths as occurring among those with and without schizophrenia.

The study showed that individuals with schizophrenia had higher rates of death for all causes including cardiovascular diseases and chronic medical conditions.

Cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke, is a leading cause of death in the general population. However, while the rest of Ontario has experienced a reduction in cardiovascular deaths, the study shows that individuals with schizophrenia are not experiencing the same reduction.

People with schizophrenia have many cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, smoking and sedentary lifestyle, but are more burdened by these risk factors than those without schizophrenia. Medications used to treat schizophrenia can cause weight gain and the development of diabetes.

"It seems that people with schizophrenia haven't benefitted from the advances that we have made for patients living with chronic physical illnesses in the general population," says Dr. Kurdyak. "A health care system that can address the mortality gap we have observed in this study would truly be a high performing health care system."

The study was supported by the Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA), a unique Canadian healthcare partnership between CAMH, The Hospital for Sick Children, Trillium Health Partners and the University of Toronto, which aims to improve the quality of care and outcomes among individuals with both physical and severe mental illnesses. At the upcoming annual MPA conference hosted by CAMH on Oct. 6, 2017, the MPA will focus on new approaches to care for patients living with physical and complex mental illness.

The study was also supported by ICES and the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC).

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy. For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit or follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.
Men are willing to talk, if you ask: Movember's Unmute - Ask him campaign urges you to support mental wellness by asking the men in your life how they're doing
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health announces opening of Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics
Breakthroughs in understanding mental illness are coming from a surprising new source—big data. This morning CAMH announced the creation of the Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics that will accelerate global collaborations in brain science using the power of big data, artificial intelligence and brain modelling to fundamentally change how mental illness is understood.

Thanks to a transformational $15-million gift from the Krembil Family, CAMH welcomes Dr. Sean Hill as the inaugural Director of the Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics.

The announcement was made at an event today by Dr. Catherine Zahn, CAMH President and Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Sean Hill, inaugural Director of the Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics; the Honourable Michael Wilson and the Krembil family.

"Every discovery is a cause to be hopeful – hopeful that we will soon see options for prevention, treatment and cure. Some are calling for a "moonshot" for mental health in Canada, and I couldn't agree more, with the establishment of the new Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics," said Dr. Zahn.

"Neuroinformatics stands to fundamentally change how mental illness is understood and CAMH will be at the centre of this research. Our family is thrilled to enable this transformative work," said Bob Krembil.

The Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics, located at 250 College Street, will be comprised of world-leading specialists employing big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and visualization and multi-scale modeling to bridge the levels of the structure and function of the brain—from genes to circuits to behaviour.

The centre will operate as an incubator for medical technologies to identify, manage and treat mental illness, while shaping policy at national and global levels. 
 In the lead up to World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, leading men's health charity the Movember Foundation is helping to ignite potentially life-saving conversations through their Unmute – Ask him campaign.

In addition to funding more than 1,200 innovative men's health projects across 21 countries focused on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention, the Foundation is also shedding light on the role of men's support networks – family, friends and partners – who can help men to remain mentally well through practicing active listening and maintaining social connections.

Now live as of September 7, Unmute – Ask him signals the start of a month-long campaign by Movember to encourage open conversations around men's mental health as a way to ultimately reduce the high rate of male suicide.

Disguised as a series of how-to videos where a man takes the viewer through simple tasks, such as 'Never run out of a gas again with this simple trick' each video demonstrates the importance of taking the initiative to ask men how they are doing, and not just assuming everything is O.K.

While the video subtitles appear to mirror the men's actions, when the viewer unmutes, they'll hear a completely different story – about men who are beginning to show signs they are struggling.

"Our research has shown that a majority of men say they are there for their friends when they need support, yet considerably fewer men are prepared to go to someone when they're struggling themselves – bringing to life the need for those around men to take themselves off 'mute' and start the conversation," says Craig Martin, Global Director, Mental Health & Suicide Prevention at the Movember Foundation.

"As part of our strategic vision to support men and boys being mentally healthy and taking action during tough times, backed by their friends, family and community, Movember is building capacity around men, to ensure more men talk and feel the benefits of being heard," he said.

"The network around men currently do not reach out enough to ask how guys are really going. We can all play a part in reducing the rate of male suicide by sparking a potentially life-changing conversation – the simple first step is just to ask and listen."
As well as encouraging people to share the Unmute – Ask him campaign videos on social media, Movember also wants people to start conversations with men they care about in just four simple steps:

Ask how they are doing

Listen without judgement

Encourage action

Check in regularly
The Movember Foundation's suicide prevention campaign is a key strategic element of their goal to reduce the rate of male suicides by 25%, and ultimately, the number of men dying prematurely by 25%, by 2030.

To learn more about how you can effectively help the men in your life open up and to view and share the Unmute – Ask him videos visit

About the Movember Foundation
The Movember Foundation is the only global charity focused solely on men's health, funding over 1,200 innovative projects across 21 countries. To date, they have raised hundreds of millions for men's health programs supporting these critical areas: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Go to to donate or participate.

Globally and locally, the Movember Foundation is making progress with mental health and suicide prevention projects, in collaboration with local men's health partners, to reach men all over the world and promote healthy actions and behaviors. These initiatives include:

Making Connections (US)
NewAccess (AUS)
Like Father Like Son (AU)
Farmstrong (NZ)
MAN/ART/ACTION Tribute Pole (CA)
Social Innovations Challenge (UK, AUS, CA)
Launching this September, 13 projects across three countries will take a range of innovative approaches to help men build and maintain quality social connections and a sense of belonging, in order to reduce the risk of social isolation and loneliness.