Education and advocacy during Mental Illness Awareness Week

September 30, 2021

In Canada, Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 3-9) is a time to raise awareness and educate the public about the reality of mental illness. This week coincides with World Mental Health Day on October 10.

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.

With their expertise and compassion, nurses and health-care workers can help educate the public and remove the stigma around mental illness.

World Mental Health Day

The World Health Organization has declared October 10 as World Mental Health Day, a day to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.

This year’s World Mental Health Day focuses on making mental health care a reality for all and building a future where quality mental health services are accessible worldwide.

During the World Health Assembly in May 2021, governments from around the world recognized the need to scale up quality mental health services at all levels and endorsed WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030, including the Plan’s updated implementation options and indicators for measuring progress. Some countries have found new ways of providing mental health care to their populations and the WHO World Mental Health Day campaign will showcase their efforts as an inspiration to others.

Visit the WHO's World Mental Health Day 2021 website for campaign information, resources and testimonials.


The Nurses’ Health Program (NHP) provides support and treatment for Ontario nurses who suffer from mental health disorders and/or substance use that is affecting their ability to practice nursing. The NHP recognizes these disorders as illnesses and adopts an approach to treatment that reduces stigma and focuses on recovery in a supportive environment. Before you contact the Nurses’ Health Program, please contact ONA’s Legal Expense Assistance Plan (LEAP) Team first. ONA members who are considering entering the NHP should call LEAP Intake at 1-800-387-5580 or email

Supporting your mental health during COVID-19

Visit the Canadian Mental Health Association's COVID-19 page for resources, tool kits and suggestions to help support mental health during the pandemic.

In partnership with Crisis Text Line, Kids Help Phone is offering crisis response across Canada, for all ages. In this moment of heightened anxiety, they are always there in any moment of need to support you. Text FRONTLINE to 741741 to access free, confidential 24/7 mental health support in both official languages.

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.