Keep Mental Illness Awareness Week top of mind

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This week marks Mental Illness Awareness Week and the second anniversary of the Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Mental health issues can come in many forms and can affect anyone. Because it is important that military and civilian Defence Team members receive the support they need, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are committed to strengthening our programs and support services to meet the evolving needs of our team members.

Major accomplishments of the Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy in the last year include ongoing service delivery, technological improvements, new specialist positions, and numerous training opportunities tailored for mental health and suicide prevention.

The transition process from military to civilian life can bring about a period of stress. To combat this, services are readily available to Canadian Armed Forces members going through this process, to help them move on to the next chapter in their career.

The stigma that is related to mental illness must end; instead, we should regard seeking help as a sign of strength. We all have a role to play in encouraging discussions on this important topic. If you need help, reach out to someone. If you think that a colleague, friend, or family member is suffering, ask if they are okay and offer your support.

‪Those currently combating mental illness must not avoid or delay accessing support services and treatment. If you have thoughts of suicide, help is immediately available by calling 911.

Services and support are available to the entire Defence team. Civilian members and their families can access the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), including Health Canada’s Employee Assistance Services (1-800-268-7708, or 1-800-567-5803 for the hearing impaired) and internal Peer Referral Services, as well as other tools and resources.

For military members, the Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program is available 24/7 by phone at 1-800-268-7708 (or 1-800-567-5803 for the hearing impaired). There are also Canadian Armed Forces programs and services available on the You’re Not Alone web page. For immediate professional mental health assistance, military members can call 1-800-268-7708 (or 1-800-567-5803 for the hearing impaired).

‪One gesture can make a huge difference in someone’s life—please don’t underestimate the impact you can have. For more information on Mental Illness Awareness Week, visit the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health’s website

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