October 10 was World Mental Health Day. Why am I sharing this with you? First, because 1 in 3 Canadians will experience a mental health problem during their lifetime. Second, in any given week, at least 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to mental health-related issues. Third and more importantly, because awareness and early intervention in mental illness can save lives.
On October 3 in Ottawa, I had the great privilege to attend the 10th Annual Leaders for Mental Health Breakfast, organized by The Royal Mental Health – Care & Research, to be the Table Captain accompanied by 11 aerospace executives and retired military leaders. This annual event raises funds for mental health awareness and research – this year, the nearly 1,000 people in attendance at the Ottawa EY Centre for breakfast raised over $595,000!
So why did I volunteer to be a Table Captain and why do I support The Royal? As a leader, I believe and recognize that we need to care for all aspects of Health and Safety for our employees. Especially in Defense & Security, where several of our employees and customers are veterans or are still serving as part of reserve forces. Perhaps some of you have suffered or are still suffering from Operational Stress Injuries; perhaps some of you have cared or are caring for a loved one with a mental illness, or perhaps don’t you know how to care for or help someone with a mental illness, and are looking for assistance programs to help in early detection.
Last, you yourself may have encountered difficult times where you have had to reach out for professional help. These are the reasons for my participation in this event, to assist in providing awareness and resources for this worthwhile cause.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be able to talk about mental health and support research in this field. The Royal is one of Canada’s foremost mental health care and academic health science centres. Their mandate is simple: to get more people living with mental illness into recovery faster. Their programs range from Mental Health First Aid to the “Is it just me?” program, a new education series designed to encourage open, informal conversations with youth on mental wellness and mental health problems.
I hope I have been able to start a dialogue and a conversation for all of you at work and at home or have given you a reason to discuss mental health for both yourself and your loved ones – IT IS IMPORTANT.