Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

October 07, 2009 19:15 ET

Canadian Forces Receive Mental Health Awards

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 7, 2009) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway; General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff; and Lieutenant-Colonel Stephane Grenier, Special Advisor on Operational Stress Injuries, were recognized today as 2009 Champions of Mental Health by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH), as a result of their leadership and vision in strengthening mental health services in the Canadian Forces (CF).

"The Government has an obligation to care for the people who work so hard to serve their country. This honour reflects the dedicated work of all involved -- CF healthcare providers, peer supporters, leadership and family -- who care for our personnel," said Minister MacKay. "We are seeing results, such as the erosion of stigma and increased knowledge throughout the CF, and these will continue to grow."

The Champions of Mental Health Awards are conferred every year during Mental Illness Awareness Week, which is the first full week of October. This year, the CF are recognized in part for their Mental Health Awareness Campaign, launched 25 June 2009. The campaign has the dual aim of educating CF personnel on mental health issues, and building a culture of understanding.

"We could not receive this award if it were not for the brave men and women who have broken the silence about mental illness," said General Natynczyk. "They are the true champions in mental health."

"We have enjoyed success in the CF due to the collaboration of organizations, such as CAMIMH, who have helped us spread the message that we are very serious about addressing mental health issues," said Lieutenant-Colonel Grenier. "We have come a long way, and we will continue to do more."

Most recently, the CF added the Mental Health and Operational Stress Injury Joint Speakers Bureau to its suite of mental health services. This peer-based education and training capability provides speaker-led mental health training sessions, and coordinates all mental health education and training activities for CF members of every rank. In 2008, more than 8,000 CF personnel were reached by the Joint Speakers Bureau. Current tempo suggests that in 2009, more than 15,000 CF personnel will have contact with the program.

The CF have a range of peer support programs and a growing team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses, and accredited chaplains in place to combat the mental health issues of military personnel and their families.

Contact Information

  • National Defence Media Liaison Office
    613-996-2353 or 1-866-377-0811
    Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health