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Marking Mental Health Week during stressful times

OPSEU Mental Health Division

When we think of mental health, we often think of it in terms of mental illness. But mental health is more than that. All of us need to take care of our overall mental wellbeing and that’s what this week – Mental Health Week – is all about.

Many Ontarians are locked in a daily juggling act. Between work, school, family, friends and other commitments, most Ontarians have very little time to spend on taking care of themselves. More often than not, looking after our own mental health ends up last on our list of priorities.

And in these political times, it has become even more challenging for us to take care of our mental wellbeing. The Ford government is piling on the stress for Ontarians on so many different fronts – from axing the planned minimum wage hike to changing and cutting funding to countless programs and services — the list goes on and on. How can Ontarians not be stressed?

Chronic stress can manifest itself into physical illness such as heart disease and increase the chances that people will pick up unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive drinking and overeating, which are risk factors for cancer.

At the same time, the Ford government has slashed new funding for mental health services to the tune of 1.34 billion dollars over four years.  All of this adds up to an enormous cost to society, lost productivity, our health care system, our families and – ultimately – ourselves.

This Mental Health Week, we are once again calling on the province to establish a dedicated Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The importance of the mind-body connection shouldn’t be dismissed. The price is too high for all of us to pay.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, First Vice-President/Treasurer