Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

October 09, 2013 11:00 ET

Statement by General Lawson on Mental Illness Awareness Week

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 9, 2013) - General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, issued the following statement today to mark Mental Illness Awareness Week:

"The mental health needs of our Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members are a priority for me, and for our senior leaders. Mental illness is also a pan-Canadian public health concern, which is why initiatives such as Mental Illness Awareness Week are so important to recognize.

"The CAF recognizes the significant sacrifices our military members and their families make in the service of our country. Collectively, we are committed to reinforcing our mental health programs and support services to meet the increasing complexities and demands of military service today. The CAF leadership team is passionate about ensuring that our members who have sacrificed in service to their country receive quality care and support.

"The recently issued internal mental health strategy, An Evolution of Excellence produced by the Surgeon General, encapsulates the importance of mental health in the CAF, the significant progress we have made, the programs we have in place for our members, and how we can continue providing high quality care in the future.

"The CAF have a wide variety of mental health services and programs available to our members, including 26 mental health clinics at bases across Canada and seven Operational Trauma and Stress Support Centres, which are centres of excellence in areas such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The 'Road to Mental Readiness' mental health education, awareness, and skills training program initiated in 2009 continues to strengthen mental resilience. It was specifically designed with the collaboration of serving members, veterans, and family members to increase mental resilience, enhance the ability of CAF members and their families to recognize distress in themselves and others, and assist them in accessing care.

"The CAF's mental health program has been recognized by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and civilian organizations for its robust approach to mental health care, its stigma reduction initiatives, its mental health research and its mental health training and awareness programs. We know more work needs to be done, and the CAF will continue to work with its allies and partners in civilian healthcare to assure the best treatment, awareness and prevention approaches for the CAF."

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