Mental Illness Awareness Week

October 4-10, 2015


Mental Health is extremely important to us at Daly AS, as we have personally experienced mental illness through our own lives, and through the lives of family and friends. This week we’ll be sharing content related to Mental Health.

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is a collection of disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.  Symptoms can range from loss of motivation and energy, changed sleep and eating patterns, extreme mood swings, disturbances in thought or perception, or overwhelming obsessions or fears.  Mental illness interferes with relationships and affects a person’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis, often leading to social isolation and unemployment.

Who gets mental illness?

Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and “happen to someone else.”  In fact, mental illnesses are common and widespread. Statistics show that one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives.  Mental illness affects males and females, young and old, and is found in every cultural and socioeconomic group.

What causes mental illness?

Most health professionals and researchers believe that mental illness is usually the result of an interaction of physical, environmental, and social factors.   

Physical factors can include a person’s individual genetic make-up, which may put them at higher risk for developing a mental illness. Factors can also include physical trauma, such as a brain injury, or the misuse of substances such as street drugs or alcohol.

Environmental factors that can negatively impact a person’s mental health can include severe psychological trauma, such as war, or sexual abuse.

Social factors such as where we live, whether we have strong support networks (close family and friends who make us feel safe and who we can rely on), and our work environment impact our mental well-being.

The amount of stress people are under, and the duration of that stress can impact one’s mental health, especially in situations where individuals are unable to change their circumstances.

Do people recover from mental illness?

Yes! People can, and do, recover from mental illness.  Recovery is a very individual thing, and can be defined as ‘living well in the presence or absence of symptoms’.  Hope, healing, a sense of empowerment and social connections are key to an individual’s recovery from mental illness.  Recovery focused social and psychiatric services, educational programs, affordable housing and financial assistance are also key to recovery.  The earlier people get help, the better the outcome, so if you or someone you know appears to be developing the symptoms of a mental illness, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

Facts from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA):

Who is affected?

  • Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
  • 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
  • Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
  • About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).

How common is it?

  • Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
  • Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
  • Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
  • The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.

What causes it?

  • A complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors causes mental illnesses.
  • Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.
  • Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community.
  • Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.

What is the economic cost?

  • The economic cost of mental illnesses in Canada for the health care system was estimated to be at least $7.9 billion in 1998 – $4.7 billion in care, and $3.2 billion in disability and early death.
  • An additional $6.3 billion was spent on uninsured mental health services and time off work for depression and distress that was not treated by the health care system.
  • In 1999, 3.8% of all admissions in general hospitals (1.5 million hospital days) were due to anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, major depression, personality disorders, eating disorders and suicidal behavior.Sources: The Report on Mental Illness in Canada, October 2002. EBIC 1998 (Health Canada 2002), Stephens et al., 2001

How does it impact youth?

  • It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder – the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide.
  • Today, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode.
  • The total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million.
  • Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities.
  • Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children; with Canada’s youth suicide rate the third highest in the industrialized world.
  • Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15-24 year old Canadians, second only to accidents; 4,000 people die prematurely each year by suicide.
  • Schizophrenia is youth’s greatest disabler as it strikes most often in the 16 to 30 year age group, affecting an estimated one person in 100.
  • Surpassed only by injuries, mental disorders in youth are ranked as the second highest hospital care expenditure in Canada.
  • In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them.

Mental Illness in the workplace

If you have a mental illness, you have the right to ask for certain accommodations that will allow you to continue to work. You are under no obligation to disclose your mental illness to your employer, but you likely be asked to show documentation from a doctor that outlines the accommodations you require.

CMHA recommends the following:

  • If you are returning to work after a leave related to mental illness, consider negotiating a graduated return-to-work with your employer. This may mean returning only three days a week, or for shorter workdays.
  • Be clear with your employer about what workplace situations cause stress, and how they can be addressed. For example, if you find long meetings difficult, tell your employer that you may have to leave the room periodically, and you will sit close to the door so you don’t disturb others. Ask that detailed notes of the proceedings be taken so you can review what you missed.
  • Certain medications may make it difficult for you to be at work first thing in the morning. Ask your employer about flexible work times that allow you to be at your most productive.
  • You may wish to ask that instructions and directions from your supervisor be provided in writing, if you find it difficult to retain spoken information.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s