OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 6, 2013) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and General Tom Lawson, the Chief of the Defence Staff, today recognized Mental Health Week and reiterated the defence team's commitment to the mental health of defence personnel and their families.
"Our government recognizes our duty to support those facing mental health challenges and the need to foster an environment that helps to increase awareness, reduce stigma and change behaviours and attitudes about mental health," said Minister MacKay. "We all face challenges and we all need to know what assistance is available to us. For members of the military and their families there are special programs in place to deliver the specialized care needed."
Mental health is a priority for the Government of Canada as well as the Canadian Armed Forces. Last week, Minister MacKay announced two new health services initiatives, the Telemental Health Network and the Virtual Reality Initiative Bravemind. These initiatives were only developed through the $11.4 million Minister MacKay reallocated to the care of ill and injured military personnel in 2012. These initiatives complement an already robust system to provide mental health care for our military men and women.
"Members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families are often asked to make sacrifices for this country, and to sometimes accept great personal risk. For this reason, we must be attentive in assuring their care and well-being. In many ways, our military community faces mental health challenges similar to those seen elsewhere in Canadian society," said General Lawson. "We will continue to work with our partners in the civilian and professional sectors to care for our personnel, and all Canadians alike, by reducing stigma or any other kind of barrier that prevents access to needed care."
The Canadian Armed Forces have worked with the Canadian Psychiatric Association and the Canadian Psychological Association to recruit mental health clinicians to provide care to our patients. In addition to the dedicated mental health and primary care teams in our clinics, Canadian Armed Forces have access to a network of over 2,000 mental health professionals across the country available to support in the care of our personnel.
The Government of Canada remains committed to enhancing mental health services for the Canadian Armed Forces. Minister MacKay has grown the mental health budget to an annual investment of $50 million. Canadian military personnel continue to receive the highest standard of services possible, wherever and whenever they serve.
Notes to editor / news director: For more information on mental health in the Canadian Armed Forces, please see the backgrounder on Mental Health Services in the Canadian Armed Forces: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?id=4374.
For more information on the 2013 Canadian Armed Forces Mental Health Survey, please visit the 2013 Canadian Armed Forces Mental Health Survey website: http://www.forces.gc.ca/health-sante/pub/mh-sm/mhs-esm/default-eng.asp.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)'s 62nd Annual Mental Health Week runs May 6 to 12, 2013. For more information on CMHA's Mental Health Week, please visit: www.mentalhealthweek.ca.