September 27, 2012 (Toronto) - Mental Illness Awareness Week (Sept. 30 – Oct. 6, 2012) marks an annual national public education campaign designed to open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness.
As part of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)’s mission to fight the stigma and discrimination that keeps people living with mental illness in the dark, CAMH recently launched the Defeat Denial campaign
. This awareness campaign calls attention to the many ways we minimize mental illness. Provocative phrases like, “just snap out of it”, “you’re imagining things,” and “you’re making a big deal out of nothing” challenge people to rethink their attitudes and how we treat people with mental illness. This fall, CAMH launched a new phase of the campaign and we are encouraging people to submit DIY videos
telling us how they will defeat denial.
Marianne Andaloro recalls going to her family physician for help and being told that all she needed was a good meal and a nap. She was reluctant to seek help again. It was only after a public incident when she was brought to hospital by police that she was properly diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder.
"People with mental illness are not abnormal. I lead a happy and successful life and I have an illness, just like people who live successfully with other medical conditions – mine just happens to be mental, not physical. There is help available and people shouldn't be ashamed to seek it out."
Jackie Nourse has lived with depression for most of her life. As a teenager Jackie remembers something “just not being right,” yet her doctor told her that she needed to be happy because she had a lot to be thankful for and she was worrying and upsetting her mother. Today she is able to manage the illness through treatment and medication.
“I want people to know that there is hope for mental illness. We’ve come a long way with effective treatments, but what good does this do if those who need help are afraid to reach out? I went many years believing I had done something wrong and that I wasn’t as good as everybody else. It’s only through finding the right support and treatment, gaining my own acceptance and understanding of my illness and openly talking about it, that I now know I didn’t do anything wrong and that I’m no different than anyone else. As with any illness, having a mental illness is not a willful act and if it can happen to me it can happen to anyone.”
According to a recent survey, only 50 per cent of Canadians would tell others that a person in their family had a mental illness, whereas 75 per cent would disclose cancer. With silence comes stigma and discrimination.
Dr. David Goldbloom, senior medical advisor at CAMH and Dr. Katy Kamkar, psychologist in CAMH’s Psychological Trauma Program are available to discuss how stigma and discrimination affects people living with mental illness.
Media Contact: Kate Richards, CAMH Public Affairs, 416 595-6015.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.
CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.