October is Mental Health Awareness Month

September 17, 2020

In Canada, October is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. Also in October, Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 4-10) and World Mental Health Day (October 10) are recognized.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, in any given year, one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. Poor mental health is not necessarily caused by one thing or one event. It is caused by a complex combination of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors. Mental illness will affect every Canadian directly, or indirectly, at some point in their life.

This year, many people have been experiencing stress and poor mental health due to the fear and uncertainty that surrounds the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a new survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association and the University of British Columbia, the pandemic is causing pronounced mental health concerns, including suicidal thoughts and feelings, in various subgroups of the population. This includes parents, those with existing mental illness or mental health issues, Indigenous people, those with a disability or those who identify as LGBTQ+. If you’d like to read the full report, please click here.

It is important that as we continue to fight this pandemic, we take care of ourselves mentally. A good way to check in on our mental health is to use this Mental Health Meter from the Canadian Mental Health Association. Although this is not a scientific test and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, this questionnaire allows you to quickly check in on how you’re really feeling.

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week always takes place throughout the second week of October. This week was established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association and has since been taken over by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health in cooperation with all its member organizations and many other supporters across Canada.

This week was created to be a national public education campaign to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness. Mental illness is something that affects people of all education and income levels, ages and cultures. In fact, by age 40, 50 per cent of the population will have or have had a mental illness. Want to learn more about mental illness? Visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website.

World Mental Health Day

October isn’t just an awareness month for mental health in Canada. The World Health Organization has recognized October 10 as World Mental Health Day.

This day is organized by the World Federation for Mental Health, an international membership organization founded in 1948 to advance, among all peoples and nations, the prevention of mental and emotional disorders, the proper treatment and care of those with such disorders, and the promotion of mental health.

This year’s World Mental Health Day is focusing on making mental health care a reality for all, with emphasis on awareness, advocacy, accessibility and action. The global campaign, which is virtual this year, aims to bridge the gap between action and understanding through creative initiatives and worldwide participation.

To learn more about World Mental Health Day and the virtual events planned, please visit the World Federation for Mental Health’s website.