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Toward Recovery and Well-Being

A Framework for a Mental Health Strategy for Canada

Note: This framework provided a structure for Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada.

Mental Health and Mental Illness

  • Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness.
  • People can have varying degrees of mental health, whether or not they have a mental illness.
  • Mental health problems and illnesses are believed to result from a complex interaction among social, economic, psychological and biological or genetic factors.
  • Mental health contributes to our enjoyment of life, to physical health, as well as to our ability to achieve our goals at work, at school and in our relationships.
  • Having good mental health helps to reduce stress, prevent mental health problems and illnesses, and foster recovery.
  • Each year, about 1 in every 5 Canadians will experience a diagnosable mental health problem or illness.

Achieving the Best Possible Mental Health and Well-Being for Everyone

  • When it comes to mental health and well-being we are all the same – there is no us and them.
  • Our vision is that: All people in Canada have the opportunity to achieve the best possible mental health and well-being.
  • The mental health system must be centred on meeting people’s needs across the lifespan.
  • The system must also be comprehensive – promoting mental health for people of all ages, supporting those at risk, intervening early, and assisting people to recover.
  • People living with mental health problems and illnesses must be able to participate actively in all aspects of the mental health system.

The Contributions and Needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis

  • A mental health strategy for Canada must acknowledge the unique circumstances, rights, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada and respond to their needs.
  • An indigenous, holistic understanding of wellness – rooted in culture, the land, family, community and self-determination – can help to transform the mental health system.
  • Despite the devastating impact of colonization and policies such as residential schools, indigenous peoples are developing innovative approaches to healing, such as cultural safety.

Goals for a Mental Health Strategy

  • A mental health strategy must be flexible enough to respond to the many and diverse needs of people across the country if it is to be implemented.
  • The 7 goals in this framework are interconnected and provide the structure for a strategy that will help guide the transformation of the mental health system.
  • With support and input from people across the country, it will be possible to progress toward achieving all the goals and create a system that supports all people in Canada as they journey toward recovery and well-being.

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