The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) today equipped parliamentarians to act as champions for youth mental health at an event on Parliament Hill.
The Honourable Geoff Regan, Speaker of the House of Commons, along with partners from the Liberal, Conservative, and NDP hosted the MHCC’s launch of #338conversations —referring to the country’s 338 federal ridings —in the hope of sparking a discourse about youth mental health in every region of the country. Members of Parliament and Senators are being asked to introduce to their communities the MHCC’s innovative and award winning HEADSTRONG anti-stigma program.
HEADSTRONG brings young people together to share stories about living in recovery from mental health problems and illnesses and gives participants concrete tools to take back to their schools and communities.
Toolkits were provided to parliamentarians to help organize meetings in their communities so that parents, educators, health care providers, police services, social workers, faith-based groups, young people and concerned community members can learn how HEADSTRONG dispels myths about mental illness that can halt recovery by preventing people from seeking help.
“Depression, anxiety and substance use aren’t weaknesses,” said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the MHCC. “They are illnesses to be overcome. HEADSTRONG gives young people the skills and language to articulate the sense of hope and resilience that we must attach to mental health problems if we want to start seeing real change.”
Majid Jowhari, MP Richmond Hill, served as the Liberal party’s sponsor at the launch event and serves as Chair for the Liberal mental health caucus on Parliament Hill.
“As Chair of the Liberal Mental Health Caucus, advancing the mental health and wellness of Canadians is near to my heart,” said Mr. Jowhari. “It is also a priority that remains at the top of our Government’s agenda. Getting involved with the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s #338conversations is an opportunity that every Parliamentarian should seize. Cultivating future mental health champions is a huge service we can offer to the communities that we are privileged to represent.”
Marilyn Gladu, MP for Sarnia-Lambton, and Conservative party sponsor for the event, also serves as the Official Opposition shadow minister for health. “As the Shadow Minister for Health, I see the gap in services to address mental health across the country, and the suicide crisis that exists in many places. I am committed to raising awareness and bringing solutions to help Canadians struggling with mental health issues.”
Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, and NDP sponsor for the launch echoed the comments of her fellow parliamentarians. “It is important for young people to discuss these issues and work on strategies to address the stigmas attached to mental health,” said Mrs. Hughes. “Peer to peer advocacy is the best way to affect change and HEADSTRONG will help facilitate those important conversations.”
ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA
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 create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.
www.mentalhealthcommission.ca | strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca
Hélène Côté, Senior Communications Advisor, Public Affairs
Mental Health Commission of Canada