National coalition of mental health groups enthusiastic about budget announcement of National Mental Health Commission - welcome non partisan approach with appointment of Senator Kirby as the Chair

    OTTAWA, March 19 /CNW Telbec/ - A coalition of Canada's major national
mental health organizations expressed enthusiastic support today for the
federal budget announcement of a national mental health commission to lead the
development of a national mental health strategy as recommended last year by
the all-party Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology, in the groundbreaking report Out of the Shadows at Last.
    The coalition, the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health
(CAMIMH), was counting on the budget for a signal from the new government that
it will honour an election commitment for a national mental health strategy.
    Mental health groups had been calling for a number of years for a
national mechanism of some form in order to get provinces to work together
with the federal government and non governmental groups on a much needed
National Strategy on Mental Illness and Mental Health. Canada remains the only
G8 country without such a strategy.
    Constance McKnight, Chair of CAMIMH, said "this is a critical juncture
point for mental health in Canada. Last May's Senate report gave us hope that
things were about to change for the 1 in 5 Canadians experiencing the
persistent stigma and lack of services and supports around mental illness. The
Commission will not only put a national spot light on our needs and issues,
but it will generate a shared vision and strategy for addressing one of the
most significant population health challenge of the 21st century in developed
countries" she added. WHO predicts that by 2020 mental illnesses will be the
leading cause of disability in western nations-nations whose economies rely on
knowledge-based industries. CAMIMH also wants the strategy to address mental
health promotion and prevention strategies and to improve Canada's application
of new knowledge in these areas.
    "We look forward to working with Senator Kirby as he takes on his new
role. He has earned our trust and respect, as have Senators Keon and Elberton
and all the Senators who worked so hard with CAMIMH to get mental health on
the national radar over the past number of years, she added."

    Some facts on mental illness

    - Mental illnesses affect 1 in 5 Canadians during their lifespan
    - 6 of the 10 leading causes of disability are mental disorders
    - In first world countries, depression alone is now the greatest cause
      of disabilities in working-aged women
    - Mental illness accounts for 14% of lost workdays. This year alone,
      Canadians will lose 35 million workdays from mental illness,
      principally from depression
    - Almost 50% of years lived with disability are due to mental illness
    - People with inadequately or undiagnosed mental illnesses are heavier
      users of emergencies, primary care services and family practitioners
      for physical conditions.

    About CAMIMH

    CAMIMH's mission is to promote and facilitate the development, adoption,
and implementation of a national action plan on mental illness and mental
health. CAMIMH was founded in 1998 to get mental health on the national agenda
and bring together the voices of the major groups that span the continuum of
mental health. The 19 members now represent consumers and their families,
health care and social service providers, professional associations, and
community and research organizations. A full list of members is available on
the website.

For further information:

For further information: Constance McKnight, Chairperson, CAMIMH, (905)

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