OTTAWA, Oct. 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Jack Saddleback has been selected as one of five Faces of Mental Illness for 2014. Next week, Jack will join members from the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) in Ottawa to advocate for changes to the way mental health is addressed within the federal framework. The annual Faces campaign aims to get people talking about mental illness and recognizes the important role mental health plays in the lives of all Canadians. The Faces are bringing a clear message to Parliamentarians—mental illness has many faces that everyone will recognize.
"The Faces of Mental Illness courageously share the stories of their lived experiences to show Canadians that mental illness touches us all and that by working together everyone can play a role in ending stigma and aiding recovery," said Florence Budden, CAMIMH Campaign Chair 2014.
Jack is a Cree two-spirit transgender man. Born a biological female, he came to understand that his inner identity didn't match his outer experience. As a gender-queer child, Jack struggled with constant bullying. Jack's mental health deteriorated throughout his teenage years resulting in a severe depression and ultimately a suicide attempt at 15. Jack's road to recovery has been challenging, dealing with stigma, discrimination, and especially a lack of adequate services in rural Alberta.
Jack's appreciation for his family's devotion pushed him to ACT!ON such as applying for the Mental Health Commission of Canada's Youth Council. As the former University of Saskatchewan Students' Union's Pride Centre Coordinator, and the current USSU Vice President of Student Affairs, Jack is a strong leader for mental health.
Jack has also helped to create "safe-space" for queer people within First Nations cultural ceremonies by establishing gender-neutral sweats and pipe-ceremonies on campus. Jack's culture plays a huge role in his well-being. To be able to partake in ceremonies that celebrate all aspects of his identity helps him to continue to take an active role in mental health advocacy. Jack recognizes that all people have a mental health and we owe it to ourselves to talk about it. For Jack, ACT!ON is a must.
CAMIMH members and Parliamentarians will assemble on October 7th for a breakfast, sponsored by Bell as part of their Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative, to discuss mental health concerns in Canada. Jack, along with the other Faces of Mental Illness will be taking part in meetings with Members of Parliament to discuss the need to make mental health a priority in Canada.
"CAMIMH is committed to making sure that when someone asks for help, it is there for them, and that there are right resources to support their journey of recovery. The lack of access to services, research and implementation of best practices, and appropriate treatments for Canadians living with mental illness is something Parliamentarians can change today. Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada with and for all Canadians offers a blueprint for action in which everyone has a role to play. That is why we are on Parliament Hill - to encourage the government ACT!ON Mental Health,"- concluded Budden.
These activities and events are taking place as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) 2014, an annual national initiative organized by CAMIMH which runs from October 5-11. MIAW's purpose is to raise awareness on the importance of mental health for the overall health of all Canadians and to facilitate a much-needed national conversation about mental illness.
To learn more about the Faces of Mental Illness campaign, please visit camimh.ca. CAMIMH would once again like to thank their generous sponsors who make this campaign possible: Bell Let's Talk, Lundbeck Canada Inc., The Mental Health Commission of Canada and Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D).
Established in 1998, the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) is an alliance of national mental health organizations comprised of health care providers and organizations representing persons with mental illness and their families and caregivers. CAMIMH's mandate is to ensure that mental health is placed on the national agenda so that persons with a lived experience of mental illness and their families receive appropriate access to care and support.
SOURCE: Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health
For further information: Kalene DeBaeremaeker, Tel: 613-233-8906/ 613-857-1758, Email: [email protected] ; Rob LeForte, Tel: 613-233-8906/ 613-720-5726