Jan 26, 2022
Mental Health

Let’s have a conversation about mental illness: today and every day

First, some facts from the Canadian Association of Mental Health:

  • 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction problem in any given year
  • By the time Canadians reach the age of 40, 1 in 2 have or have had a mental illness
  • Young people aged 15-24 are more likely to experience mental illness or other substance use disorders than any other age group
  • Canadians in the lowest income group are 3 to 4 times more likely than those in the highest income group to report poor to fair mental health
  • Studies in various Canadian cities indicate that between 23% and 67% of homeless people report having a mental illness
  • 64% of Ontario workers would be concerned about how work would be affected if a colleague had a mental illness
  • 39% of Ontario workers indicate that they would not tell their managers if they were experiencing a mental health problem
  • Individuals with a mental illness are much less likely to be employed. Unemployment rates are as high as 70% to 90% for people with the most severe mental illnesses

When we talk about health, people often don’t factor in how they are doing mentally. But a person’s overall health and wellbeing are made up of both physical health and mental health. With such a large portion of the population experiencing mental illness, it makes sense that we start speaking about it openly, as we do with physical conditions.

So why is it difficult to talk about mental illness?

People experiencing mental illness can find it difficult to talk about because of the stigma associated with mental illness. Stigma is a significant barrier to people experiencing mental illness. It can impact things like employment, social relationships, education, and access to resources and care. The more we talk about mental illness and learn about the importance of mental health in our daily lives, the more we can reduce the stigma. Having a conversation about mental health and mental illness is essential to addressing stigma.

Anyone can have a mental illness, but not everyone has the same experiences with mental illness.

Structural and systemic factors, like racism and colonialism, can impact mental health and even access to quality support. Those same structural and systemic factors can also affect access to affordable housing, homelessness, and poverty – all things that can contribute to worse mental health outcomes. While anyone can have a mental illness, the structural and systemic barriers in our communities create different experiences and outcomes for peoples’ mental health. Finding ways to create better supports for people with mental illness and reducing the stigma is about more than just bringing awareness to it. It’s important that our solutions are based on the intersectionality between mental health and systemic barriers to ensure that we address challenges to our mental health effectively.

One way that Causeway does this is by recognizing the intersectionality between employment and mental illness and taking a holistic approach to supported employment. We know that the path to employment isn’t linear and people often face other barriers that prevent them from finding work. By meeting people where they are to provide support, we are working to create more positive experiences in the journey to find rewarding employment. Advocacy is also an important component of our work. We connect with employers to help them create stronger workforces inclusive of people with mental illness and other barriers to employment.

What can I do to help someone?

If you would like to know how you can help someone who is experiencing mental illness, take a look at these resources:

I’m struggling right now. Where can I turn to for help?

If you are struggling right now, that’s okay. There are many community resources available that can help:

How can I make a difference in my community?

If you are wondering how you can make a difference in your community, consider donating to a local organization that provides mental health care and other supports. Many of the organizations listed above have seen increased demand for their services, especially in the last two years because of the pandemic and the increase in mental health challenges.

As always, remember to be kind to yourself and to others. We’re living through some challenging times right now, and we are all doing what we can.

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