If you are in distress, you can text WELLNESS to 741741 at any time. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.

From Mental Health Commission of Canada

As World Suicide Prevention Day draws near, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is pleased to announce the expansion of our made-in-Canada, community-based Roots of Hope suicide prevention initiative by welcoming 10 new “early adopters.”

“Roots of Hope is an approach to preventing suicide that includes five distinct components, or pillars, but the communities themselves fill in the blanks, drawing from their unique strengths and identifying specific areas of concern,” explained Michel Rodrigue, MHCC president and CEO. “By expanding this program to include 10 more communities, we are going to glean more knowledge and generate further progress.”

The 10 early adopter communities from across the country have each identified groups that are especially vulnerable to suicide. These include isolated seniors, youth transitioning to the adult mental health system, parents with young children, middle-aged men, and Indigenous people.

“Looking at these populations should tell you one thing,” said Ed Mantler, MHCC vice-president of Programs and Priorities. “No one is immune to suicide. But by zeroing in on people at risk and taking a whole-of-community approach, our goal is to knit together a tighter safety net.”

From Sooke, B.C., to Flin Flon, Manitoba, to New Brunswick, these disparate communities will be able to draw on what the others learn, lean on one another for support, and create a guiding light for regions across the country that wish to adopt an evidence-based approach to suicide prevention.

“Roots of Hope isn’t a one-size-fits-all, fast-food-style approach,” added Rodrigue. “Because communities build out the program, it reflects their cultural, linguistic, and geographic needs. There is something powerful about providing a community with the tools and supports to solve its own challenges. It’s the kind of empowerment that will continue, long after the project runs its course.”

Quick Facts

  • Since 2018, the MHCC has been working with the first cohort of eight Roots of Hope communities (in the research demonstration project) to build capacity in suicide prevention.
  • Early adopter communities will implement Roots of Hope in their communities from 2021 to 2023, with ongoing supports from the MHCC.
  • Each community will also be supported by a dedicated MHCC liaison as they implement activities in their communities.
  • The Roots of Hope model involves cross-sector collaboration and a multi-pronged approach to prevention, intervention, and postvention through a variety of activities under five pillars.

Community Backgrounders

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From Mental Health Commission of Canada

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and Excellence Canada are joining forces to support employers wishing to implement the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard).

Each week, 500,000 employees miss work due to mental health concerns, and mental illness accounts for two-thirds of long-term disability costs. Implementing the Standard has been shown to decrease days absent, increase worker engagement, and pay dividends to organizations willing to invest in employee wellness by protecting and supporting their mental health at work.

Now, with a groundbreaking partnership between the Standard’s dedicated champion, the MHCC, and Excellence Canada, the nation’s pre-eminent accreditation body for workplace mental health, employers can obtain support in implementing the world’s first psychological workplace safety standard — and receive independent certification for their efforts.

“A goal is a wish yet to be fulfilled, whereas a standard is an expectation,” said Michel Rodrigue, MHCC president and CEO. “Setting a standard for mental health at work demonstrates a commitment to employee wellness that does more than solidify brand reputation — it signals genuine caring and a willingness to grow. This is the currency today’s employees are rightfully looking for.”

Employers can now seek tailored guidance on implementing the Standard through trusted pioneers whose deep knowledge, proven methodologies, and vetted resources provide reassurance at a time when there are many competing voices in the sphere of mental health and business.

“Improving mental health at work is about saving lives, alleviating suffering, and empowering people to be the best they can be,” says Allan Ebedes, President and CEO of Excellence Canada. “Our experience shows that adhering to the National Standard and celebrating milestones through certification and awards sustains the energy and commitment needed to build trust in leadership and a culture of excellence.”

By combining forces, both parties believe they can provide high-quality, evidence-based support for organizations seeking to implement the Standard and be formally recognized for it. The partnership gives employers an unmatched opportunity to bolster the health and performance of their workforce.

According to Jennifer Elia, VP Future of Work at Excellence Canada, employee well-being is central to business performance. “A well-supported, iterative approach to psychological health and safety helps eliminate fear and uncertainty from the process. With MHCC, we partner with employers at every step, from original commitment to adopt the Standard all the way through to celebration as a role-model employer of choice.”

Today’s employees expect employers to support their mental health and well-being while protecting them from workplace factors that can cause or contribute to mental injury, just as they are expected to do for their physical health and safety. Through this partnership, both organizations aim to support employers not just in satisfying that expectation, but exceeding it.

About the Mental Health Commission of Canada
The MHCC is committed to helping employers create and maintain mentally healthy workplaces by providing the tools, information, and support needed to ensure that every person in Canada can go to work knowing their organization recognizes the importance of psychological health and safety in the workplace. The MHCC commissioned the development of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. Launched in 2013, it is the world’s first standard designed to protect the psychological health and safety of employees. It has since become the international benchmark for similar standards.

About Excellence Canada
Excellence Canada has over 35 years of experience developing Standards for organizational excellence and continual improvement, including the Mental Health at Work® framework established in 2011. They provide highly-respected third-party validation to organizations from every sector and industry that the Standards have been properly implemented, levels and trends are positive, and the desired outcomes are sustainable. Excellence Canada is also the custodian and adjudicator for the Canada Awards for Excellence Program, the nation’s most prestigious and rigorous organizational prize.

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Quick Facts

  • 86 per cent of employees expect their employer to safeguard their mental health.
  • 70 per cent of employees in Canada are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace.
  • One in five people in Canada experience a mental health problem or illness each year.
  • The total cost of mental health problems to the Canadian economy exceeds $50 billion annually, or nearly $1,400 for every person.

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From Mental Health Commission of Canada

Today, the Mental Health Commission of Canada stands in grief and solidarity with Indigenous people across the country following the discovery of a mass grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

There are no words equal to the task of mourning innocent lives stolen in the name of government policy. The revelation of the final resting place of 215 Indigenous children will undoubtedly resurface old wounds and revive former traumas for many survivors and their families. In this time of heightened isolation, reaching out is more important than ever.

A 24-hour National Indian Residential School Crisis Line offering support services and crisis referrals is available at 1-866-925-4419 for former residential school students and their families. Those affected can also call the Hope for Wellness line at 1-855-242-3310, the Talk 4 Healing line at 1-855-554-HEAL, or text WELLNESS to 741741 at any time.

While this discovery is, above all, a painful reminder of Canada’s reprehensible treatment of Indigenous peoples, it also reinforces the importance of trauma-informed, culturally appropriate care. Likewise, we cannot expect to close this dark chapter, as a nation, without a firm commitment to walking a path of reconciliation. Recent events affirm that this journey will not be an easy one, but if we hope to heal the wounds of today, we cannot ignore yesterday’s scars.

Michel Rodrigue
President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada

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The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is a proud supporter of Mental Health Week. This year, as we face a third, taxing wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are urging people across the country to take stock of their mental health, name their feelings, and seek the support they need.

Many studies, including research we conducted with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, tell the story of declining mental wellness since the onset of the pandemic.

During the last year, our COVID-19 resource hub has quickly grown to house a range of useful, timely, and relevant information that people can count on. In concert with other tools, like Wellness Together Canada, which offers free self-assessments and federally funded mental health resources, and the text and phone support available through Kids Help Phone, there are many avenues that will lead people toward help.

Our most recent tools include supporting the mental wellness of women, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic — specifically, those who have been sidelined from the workforce as they shoulder most of the child care and household responsibilities. Our mini-guide includes practical tips and resources on everything from mental health supports to financial literacy.

To coincide with Child and Youth Mental Health Day, we are also releasing a guide to help parents, caregivers, and trusted adults who are faced with the challenge of talking to children about a suicide. No one is born with the wisdom required to navigate these difficult situations, and it is OK to be fearful of saying the wrong thing. But with the right tools, we can learn how to open challenging conversations and create an environment that builds trust.

As Mental Health Week reminds us, we should never be afraid to out seek tools and resources that guide our conversations and point us in the direction of appropriate supports.

Michel Rodrigue
President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada

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Mental Health Commission of Canada
613-683-3748 / media@mentalhealthcommission.ca

From Mental Health Commission of Canada

Today, Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) Board Chair Chuck Bruce announced the appointment of Michel Rodrigue as the organization’s new President and Chief Executive Officer.

Rodrigue has served as the MHCC’s Vice-President of Organizational Performance and Public Affairs for the last five years. During that time, he worked closely with outgoing P-CEO Louise Bradley to spearhead extraordinary progress toward reshaping Canada’s mental health landscape.

After mounting a nationwide search to identify the MHCC’s new leader, the Board unanimously confirmed Rodrigue as Bradley’s successor.

“For the last decade, the MHCC has benefited from Louise’s vision, passion, and unique style of servant leadership. She can take a great deal of credit for the reduced stigma and increased investments in mental health we see today,” said Bruce. “We recognize the importance of building on her legacy by choosing a leader to continue this important work. Michel has been instrumental in supporting Answering the Call, the MHCC’s newly released strategic plan. Not only has he developed a passion for mental health advocacy, he has also shown his intrinsic understanding of the system improvements needed to achieve the Board’s bold, forward-looking vision.”

Bradley echoed Bruce’s comments. “I am thrilled to be passing the baton to Michel. He has become an impassioned advocate for mental health, he has helped shape the MHCC’s very special culture, and he has the humility to surround himself with the best people. These strengths will spell success, not only for the MHCC, but for Canada’s broader mental health landscape.”

For Rodrigue, this role is the privilege of his professional career. “The MHCC has an extraordinary team who views mental health not as a career path, but as a vocation. We are equally fortunate to have strong partners across the sector,” he said. “I have learned so much from the generous mentors over the years, including Louise, who have not only supported me, but also challenged me. While I welcome this new chapter with enthusiasm, I am also humbled by the trust that has been placed in me. Tremendous progress has been made in mental health, but it’s our job to make sure that the push toward equity doesn’t waver.”

Rodrigue will officially begin his new role on March 24, 2021.

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Mr. Ian Scott
Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
1 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec J8X 4B1

February 25, 2021

Dear Mr. Scott,

I am writing on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to highlight the urgent need for an easy-to-access three-digit suicide prevention number — an important part of any suicide prevention strategy, as advocated by our longtime partner the World Health Organization.

A three-digit number would instantly remove a barrier for someone making a distress call. Member of Parliament for Cariboo-Prince George, Mr. Todd Doherty, put forward a successful motion for a “three-digit (988) National Suicide Prevention Hotline that is accessible to all Canadians.” The fact that it received unanimous support highlights the universality of the issue. The same is true of a petition signed by 34,000 Canadians, spearheaded by teen advocate Madi Muggridge.

Over the past few months, the MHCC has been working in collaboration with Crisis Services Canada, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Canadian Mental Health Association (National) to develop a white paper called Considerations for Implementing a Three-Digit Suicide Prevention Number in Canada. Set for a March release, the paper outlines the factors to consider for Canada to implement its own three-digit suicide prevention number.

The evidence is clear that a three-digit suicide prevention number allows easier routing to local suicide prevention services and provides clarity for individuals in their time of need. If promoted properly, it can quickly reduce confusion and save lives.

By working together, we can make important inroads to address suicide, a serious public health concern and a leading cause of death in Canada. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified the need for an easy-to-access three-digit prevention line. A recent national study found that one in 20 Canadians has recently experienced suicidal feelings, and it further emphasized the disproportionate impact on certain subgroups.

We understand that the CRTC is considering holding public proceedings about whether to mandate Canadian telecommunication providers to implement a three-digit number. We strongly encourage the CRTC to move forward with a broad discussion to ensure that people with lived experience, mental health advocates, and stakeholders in the suicide prevention and distress-line sector can be heard. In addition to submitting the white paper and other evidence, we would welcome the opportunity to contribute to CRTC hearings, should public proceedings be initiated.

A properly implemented three-digit suicide prevention number will save lives. The CRTC’s decision to move forward with the necessary proceedings is a critical next step. We stand ready to support this effort by whatever means necessary.

Sincerely,

Louise Bradley, C.M.
President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada

cc: The Hon. Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
The Hon. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
Ms. Stephanie MacKendrick, Chief Executive Officer, Crisis Services Canada,
Ms. Margaret Eaton, National CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association National,
Ms. Alison Crawford, Clinician Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

From Mental Health Commission of Canada

Today, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is proud to share its new strategic plan for the next 10 years.

After consulting with hundreds of partners, stakeholders, critics, and champions, this new plan, titled Answering the Call, was created in response to the diverse needs of the people who live with, work in, and study mental illness.

With its three broad strategic objectives — Inquire, Inspire, and Improve — the plan’s goals include supporting and disseminating the best evidence-based research, countering stigma and calling for parity between physical and mental health, and improving access to services and supports.

“The plan builds on the foundational work of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada,” said Chuck Bruce, chair of the MHCC’s board of directors. “But our goal was to think bigger and bolder: to envision a plan limited only by our imagination. Answering the Call is intentionally aspirational because it’s a sweeping prescription for transformational change.”

“I’m particularly pleased that the plan prioritizes and amplifies lived experience,” added Louise Bradley, MHCC president and CEO. “We can take the slogan ‘nothing about us without us’ to the next level by incorporating the experiences, insights, and wisdom of the people who live with mental illness into care protocols and models. Doing that will make the system more responsive to users’ needs.”

Over the past decade, the MHCC’s work has helped shine a light on many of the inequities that need to be corrected and the gaps that need to be bridged. This new strategic plan offers the roadmap to move from identifying those needs to answering the call.

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From Mental Health Commission of Canada

Talking about suicide isn’t easy — the most important conversations rarely are — but as the Association québécoise de prévention du suicide (AQPS) reminds us, talking can save lives.

Increased stress, anxiety, and depression are all side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for some people, this translates to feelings of hopelessness, despair, or even suicidal thoughts. That’s why the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is releasing a resource to guide those difficult but extremely important conversations in the workplace.

“As the pandemic wears on, many of us are increasingly isolated, and our workplaces are taking on even greater significance,” said Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the MHCC. “For many people, colleagues have also become an informal social support network, but we don’t inherently know how to broach sensitive topics or where to find information to support a co-worker.”

Suicide Prevention in the Workplace was written to help navigate challenging conversations, explained Liz Horvath, the MHCC’s manager of workplace mental health.

“We wrote it to be broad enough for a variety of workplaces (including our own), and it includes tips for protecting mental health for managers, co-workers, and people who work with the public,” she said.

Today, eleven lives will be lost to suicide in Canada. Tomorrow doesn’t have to be that way. “Together, we can prevent suicide, but first we must be willing to talk about it,” said Bradley.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please contact 1-833-456-4566 or your nearest distress centre. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.

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From Mental Health Commission of Canada

Today, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is proud to join our partners at Bell in the world’s largest conversation about mental health. Given the ongoing pandemic, this year’s campaign is urging people in Canada to make every action count, and thanks to Bell’s commitment to investing in mental health, we have tools to support that effort.

Since its launch eight years ago, The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard) — the world’s first of its kind — has helped countless organizations weave psychological health and safety into the fabric of their workplace. Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital, for instance, an early champion of the Standard, has seen a downward trend in long-term disability claims and employee absenteeism since incorporating the guidelines into its wellness program.

In light of the ongoing success of the Standard, last fall we were thrilled to release a similar set of flexible, voluntary guidelines for post-secondary institutions. With over 70 per cent of students feeling stress, anxiety, or isolation due to COVID-19, and more than 80 per cent worried about their futures beyond the pandemic, it’s never been more important to support student mental health.

To that end, The National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students couldn’t come at a better time. Its aim is to build on the important work Canada’s post-secondary institutions have done to put mental wellness at the core of their operations. Many institutions, including Carleton University and Concordia University, are keen to bolster their existing mental health supports and improve the student experience with the help of these new guidelines. With Bell’s recently announced Post-Secondary Fund, administrators should feel confident that implementation of this framework will be well-supported.

From boardrooms to classrooms, the MHCC hopes these tools will continue to inspire meaningful action, none of which would have been possible without Bell’s support and investment. In keeping with its own longstanding tradition of turning talk into action, today Bell will be donating five cents to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, call, social media post using #BellLetsTalk, or view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video. For a complete list of ways to participate, visit the Bell Let’s Talk Day website.

Just as a collection of five-cent donations can amount to an impressive sum, small actions toward wellness can yield powerful change. Every action, and every nickel, counts.

Louise Bradley
President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada

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Mental Health Commission of Canada
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