Navigating mental health during the pandemic

The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) recently announced the five Canadians named the 2020-21 Faces of Mental Illness.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has lifted a veil on the prevalence of mental illness amongst Canadians, and really shown how widespread it is,” said Florence Budden, Co-Chair of CAMIMH. “This year’s five Faces reflect this diversity and message. The Faces come from across Canada, from many backgrounds, and with different experiences.”

Each year, five Faces of Mental Illness are selected to represent the 1 in 5 Canadians affected by mental illness. They are also celebrated for their advocacy work and for sharing their journey of recovery. These brave individuals help CAMIMH advocate for improvements to Canada’s mental health policies by sharing their stories of resilience and recovery.

“This is one of the most exciting groups of Faces that CAMIMH has had the pleasure to work with,” said Ellen Cohen, Co-Chair of CAMIMH. “We are eager to share their stories.”

The theme of the 2020 Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) highlights that now more than ever Canadians understand that there is no health without mental health. As we all navigate these challenging times by adjusting our behaviours, attitudes, lifestyles and social interactions, we want to recognize and celebrate the movement we as a society have made in prioritizing mental health.

This year, CAMIMH is calling on all governments to strive for mental health parity by advocating for better, more accessible mental health services for all Canadian on par with physical health.

“We’ve all had to face new challenges both with our physical and mental health as a result of the pandemic. This year’s MIAW is more important than ever before, as we work to bring adequate supports for more Canadians,” added Cohen.

During MIAW, CAMIMH will also host the 2020 Champions of Mental Health Virtual Awards Ceremony. Originally scheduled as an in-person gala in May, CAMIMH looks forward to recognizing seven remarkable Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to improving mental health in Canada. The awards ceremony will take place on October 6 at 6 p.m. and will include remarks from notable Canadians, including parliamentarians and celebrities.

“We hope to see a record number of Canadians participate in this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week campaign so that we can show governments that investment in mental health supports needs to be a priority as we plan for post-pandemic recovery,” concluded Budden.

Across Canada, hundreds of organizations including schools, workplaces and hospitals are supporting MIAW with their own initiatives. To see what various organizations and individuals are doing we encourage all to monitor the hashtag #MIAW20 on social media throughout the week.

The 2020-2021 Faces of Mental Illness are:

  • Karandeep Gill (Brampton, ON)
  • Caroline Fei-Yeng Kwok (Toronto, ON)
  • Keith Lyon (Fredericton, NB)
  • Lydia Migneault (Longueuil, QC)
  • Nick Petrella (Ancaster, ON)

To learn more about CAMIMH and Mental Illness Awareness Week, visit www.camimh.ca

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