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Reducing the stigma during Mental Illness Awareness Week

This is Mental Illness Awareness Week – a time for education, outreach and advocacy for people who are struggling with a mental illness.

Mental Illness Awareness Week started in 1990 in the United States and since then has always been marked during the first full week of October. This year, Mental Illness Awareness Week runs from October 6th to the 12th.

Unfortunately, we have a premier who has done more damage to mental health initiatives and efforts to reduce stigma than any other Ontario premier in recent memory. 

Doug Ford has publicly declared that he has “no sympathy” for people who are not criminally responsible for violent crimes due to mental illness. Ford’s solution? Lock ‘em up and throw away the key because they should be “dealt with in jail.” We have a crisis in our corrections system in large part because too many people with mental illness wind up in jail and don’t get the treatment they need.

This week also includes World Mental Health Day, which is on October 10th. This year’s theme is “Working Together To Prevent Suicide.”

Our members from Region 6 will be holding fundraising barbecues in northern Ontario communities in the coming days to raise awareness about the critical role that peer-to-peer support plays in the mental health of frontline workers and first responders who experience traumatic events on the job.

At OPSEU, we understand the importance of helping people who are struggling.  Everyone – either directly or indirectly – is affected by a mental health issue. And so it is up to all of us to work together to reduce the stigma of mental illness and suicide to ensure people in crisis get the proper care they need.

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