October 6, 2008

Mental Illness Awareness Week Tackles Stigma of Mental Illness

Millions of Canadians are affected by mental illness at some point in their life, but a persistent stigma prevents many from coming forward and getting the help they need. Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), which runs from October 5 -11, 2008, hopes to change that by bringing mental illness out of the shadows and putting a human face on the illness.

Approximately 1 in 5 Canadians will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their life," said Ruth-Anne Craig, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association - Manitoba Division. "In Manitoba, mental illness is the number one health disability, striking more Manitobans than breast cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer's disease."

Craig added, "With early diagnosis and treatment, people who are diagnosed with a mental illness can recover and go on to lead productive and fulfilling lives. But many don't get the treatment they need because of the stigma and misconceptions that persist about people with mental illnesses."

MIAW is a public education campaign spearheaded by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH), with the support of thousands of mental health-care organizations and volunteers.  MIAW aims to promote discussion and informed decision-making about mental health issues.

Marion Cooper, Mental Health Promotion Program Specialist with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), said, "Our goal is to educate Manitobans about the reality of mental illness so we can reduce stigma and enable people to seek help. We also want to increase the capacity of communities to include and support people with mental health problems."

Cooper added, "We need to tell the stories of people who live with a mental illness - stories of courage, recovery and perseverance. By sharing these stories with Manitobans, we can raise awareness about mental illness and help to change public opinion."

Throughout the month of October a number of activities are planned to raise awareness about mental illness, including:

October 6th
Launching of the "That's Just Nuts" Anti-Stigma Campaign. For more information please contact the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba at 786-0987.

October 7th
7th Annual Heroes of Mental Health Awards Luncheon. For more information, contact: Debbie Keele 953- 2353.

October 18th
Mood Disorders 7th Annual Big Daddy Tazz and Friends Comedy Night Fundraiser at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Show starts at 8:00 p.m.  For tickets, contact 786-0987.

October 23, 2008 - 7:30 p.m.
Public Education Event "Not Clean Enough! OCD and Contamination." For more information, please contact the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Centre at 942-3331.

For more information on Mental Illness Awareness Week, please visit

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