OTTAWA, June 6, 2012 /CNW/ - The world's largest international
conference on mental health stigma concluded today in Ottawa with a
call to action for all Canadians to play a role in eliminating the
discrimination and stigma that often prevent people with mental illness
from getting the support and care they need.
Nearly 600 of the world's top researchers, mental health professionals,
policy makers and people with lived experience gathered in Ottawa from
June 4-6 for Together Against Stigma: Changing How We See Mental Illness — a three-day conference organized by the Mental Health Commission of
Canada (MHCC) and the World Psychiatric Association Scientific Section
on Stigma and Mental Illness.
"More than seven million Canadians will experience mental health
problems this year, and the sad reality is that many of them will find
the stigma they face is actually worse than the illness itself," said
Micheal Pietrus, Director of the MHCC's anti-stigma initiative Opening
Minds. "All of us can play a role in reducing stigma faced by those
with mental illness. We desperately need to eradicate this problem so
that we can improve our mental health system and provide people with a
better quality of life."
The 5th annual International Stigma Conference follows on the heels of the MHCC
launching the country's first national mental health strategy (strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca) last month and the recent World Health Assembly proceedings in Geneva.
Over the course of three days of workshops, symposiums and panel
discussions led by mental health experts from around the world,
delegates examined numerous important topics including media depictions
of mental illness, building better mental health practices for
healthcare providers and youths, and human rights and stigma in the
Dr. Ian Arnold, chair of the MHCC's Workforce Advisory Committee, told
participants during a Day 3 plenary session on workplace wellness that
employers, workers and society as a whole benefit when employers strive
to reduce mental health stigma.
"There is a strong business case for improving workplace wellness," said
Arnold, who highlighted several ongoing MHCC initiatives aimed at
reducing mental health stigma in workplaces. "Not only is it the right
thing to do to ensure employees aren't discriminated against, but also
it pays off with higher employment, higher productivity and reduced
costs to individual businesses, which improves our overall economy."
During a closing plenary session Wednesday hosted by the Canadian Human
Rights Commission, panelists discussed ways that human rights
legislation and policies can be utilized to try to eliminate stigma and
discrimination against people living with mental illness.
"We continue to see complaints regarding mental health increasing. That
shows to me that stigma and discrimination are all too prevalent," said
Acting Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission David
Langtry, noting nearly one fifth of the commission's complaints are
based on mental health issues. "I do share the hope that there is a
paradigm shift … and that people with mental illnesses are treated as
The event featured several high-profile speakers, including
award-winning actress and mental health advocate Glenn Close, her
sister Jessie Close and nephew Calen Pick, who were keynote speakers on
the conference's opening day. Together they founded an organization
working to eradicate the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental
illness after Jessie Close and Calen Pick faced life-and-death battles
with mental illness.
More detailed information about the conference, presenters and academic
research papers released during the conference can be found at www.togetheragainststigma.ca. Follow the event on Twitter at: #Stigma2012 and @MHCC_
ACADEMIC PAPERS AND PRESENTATIONS
A host of academic presentations were released throughout the
conference. A number of presentation and discussion sessions were also
be held, highlighting mental health programs from across the country.
Among the presentations made today were:
Current Practices in Reducing the Stigma of Mental Disorders in the
Novel Form of Police Training for Interactions with Mentally Ill
Myths and Realities about Forensic Mental Health Clients.
Creative Minds: Raising Awareness and Reducing Stigma through the Arts.
Opening Minds on the Front Lines.
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 are sparking change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is
funded by Health Canada.
About Opening Minds
Opening Minds is the MHCC's anti-stigma initiative designed to change
the attitudes and behaviours of Canadians towards those living with a
mental health problem or illness. The initiative is currently
evaluating anti-stigma programs across Canada to identify which are
successful at changing attitudes and behaviours related to mental
illnesses. The successful programs are replicated elsewhere in the
country. Opening Minds is also working with journalism schools and the
media to identify myths and misconceptions associated with mental
illness to create a network of change and decrease stigma.
The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental
Health Commission of Canada.
Production of this document is made possible through a financial
contribution from Health Canada.
SOURCE Mental Health Commission of Canada
For further information:
Jacqueline (Jacquie) LaRocque
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