The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has declared May 7 to May 13, 2012 as Mental Health Week. With the theme "Mental Health For All", Mental Health Week is an annual national event designed to encourage people to learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues surrounding mental health. Along with regional and local events, the Assocation is focusing on key topics highlighting the different ways that mental health issues can affect us all.
These topics include :
The Kids Can Have Stress Too! program was developed to boost childrens's ability to handle the normal stress of growing up. Educating parents, caregivers, and teachers on how to recognize stress in children, the program is also designed to give them the knowledge and insight to help the children in their care cope with stress in healthy ways. The original program was developed for classroom use with children aged five to nine but a second pre-schooler program has also been developed for pre-school children. The CMHA is working with social service agences and public health units to bring these programs to every province in Canada.
What is resiliency? It is defined as "a combination of skills and positive attributes that people gain from their life to help them solve problems, cope with challenges and bounce back from disappointments". As part of their Mental Health Week initiative, CMHA is encouraging adults to develop their resiliency skills to help them function at work and to teach those essential skills to their children.
Although research shows that one in five Canadians will suffer a mental illness at some time in their lives, the stigma surrounding mental illness remains unacceptably strong. Along with being present in every family, mental illness is also the leading cause of disability in Canada accounting for nearly thirty percent of all disability claims and costs the Canadian economy 50 billion dollars a year in health care costs and lost revenue. To prevent mental illness from being "swept under the carpet", the CMHA is working to combat many of the myths surrounding mental illness that can prevent people from getting the help that they need or becoming reintegrated into society afterward. As the fact sheets available on the CMHA site show, most people with mental illness can, and do, get better and return to their normal lives.
Also, in the United States, Mental Health America is celebrating May as "Mental Health Month". First started in 1949, marking May as Mental Health Month raises awareness of the one in four Americans who suffer from mental health issues and to improve mental wellness for all. This year's two main themes are:
- "Do More for 1 in 4"
Providing a call for action for the one in four Americans who live with diagnosible and treatable mental illnesses. Download the Do More For 1in4 Toolkit.
- Healing Trauma's Invisible Wounds
Dealing with trauma can often take a lifetime and many trauma sufferers are either unwilling or unable to get the help they need. Traumatic events can affect entire communities as much as they affect individuals. Download the Healing Trauma's Invisible Wounds Toolkit.
Contact Mental Health America to learn more about Mental Health Month and their other resources.