Embrace Life Council wants to raise awareness of mental illness
Mental Illness Awareness Week runs from Oct. 1 to Oct. 5
The Embrace Life Council in Iqaluit wants people across Nunavut to fight the stigma of mental illness.
To achieve that goal, the council has sent out digital presentations to schools, mental health workers and other community health representatives.
The council hopes communities will use these slides to provoke discussion during Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 1 to 5.
Raising awareness about mental illness is even more important now with the release of the Inuit Health Survey and its sobering statistics, Jenny Tierney, executive director of the Embrace Life Council said.
“Now that we have the research, we need to be doing something about it,” she said.
The 40-minute slide presentation, created by the council, includes information on how teenagers can access mental health resources, such as the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut help line.
It also includes explanations of different conditions and behaviors such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders.
In other words, “any behaviour that somebody might be demonstrating” mental illness.
“We don’t want people to be afraid [of getting help],” Tierney said.
The slides feature well-known people such as former Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Mary Simon, who has spoken about having depression in the past, so kids can “relate to some individuals that they might know about.”
People in Cape Dorset plan on using the new slide presentation as a resource, Tierney said, but “it could be for anybody who is working with youth,” she added.
It’s important to have weeks like this to stop the neglect of mental health and mental health illnesses in Nunavut and Canada, Tierney said.
Mental Health Illlness Awareness Week is an annual national campaign of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.