May 6 to 12 is Mental Health Week
(This is the Canadian Mental Health Association's 62nd annual mental health week) This is as good a week as any to learn how to take care of your own mental health, to get facts about mental illness, or to find help for yourself or for others. 
Prevalence of Mental Illness:
"Mental illness indirectly affects almost 100% of all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague. Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures. At least 20% of Canadians will personally experience a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetime. 3% or nearly 1 million Canadians live with a severe and persistent mental illness. Mental illness is more prevalent than heart disease or cancer. And one of the saddest statistics: More than 4000 Canadians per year will end their own life through suicide."
(J.Lamoure, An Introduction to Psychiatric Patient Care, OPA Psychiatric Patient Care,Toronto, Dec./12)
Mental Illness, Mood Disorders and Personality Disorders
Mental illness may present itself in the form of:
  • Anxiety Disorders (such as Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia without History of Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,  Social Phobia, Specific Phobia. Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Childhood Disorders (such as Autistic Disorder, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD)
  • Mood Disorders (such as Depression or Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder)
  • Cognitive Disorders (such as Delirium, Dementia associated with Alcoholism, or Dementia of the Alzheimer type)
  • Personality Disorders (such as Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder (or Emotional Regulation Disorder), Histrionic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, and  Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder)
  • Schizophrenia & Other Psychotic Disorders
  • Substance-Related Disorders (such as Alcohol Dependence or Opioid Dependence)
"When considering mental health conditions, it's important to not just think of the condition as a disease ... think of it from the patient's perspective as well... the patient is at dis-ease with themselves and with their surroundings. They don't feel as they used to feel or as they think they are "supposed" to feel. They perceive a difference between them and what they believe to be the societal "norm". (What is Normal?). They feel frustration that they can't feel like they believe they should." (J.Lamoure, Dec./12)
Stigma, which is still a problem, is something each of us can help erase:
Because of stigma, fear and rejection are often common reactions to a person diagnosed with a mental illness. "The stigma attached to mental illness is so pervasive that people who suspect that they might be mentally ill are unwilling to seek help for fear of what others may think. Spouses may be reluctant to define their partners as mentally ill, while families may delay seeking help for their child because of their fears and shame." -
So, why is there stigma associated with mental illness? We just have to look around us at our society. Stereotypes surround us in movies, television and the media regarding how the mentally ill are represented. Often the mentally ill are depicted in movies as "psychos". Look objectively at our choice of words in our conversations, in our joke-telling and in our description of others who are different than ourselves. We casually use the words "crazy" or "lunatic" without thinking about what we are saying or how we are saying it. Part of the problem of stigma in our society is the media, but part of the problem is also you and me.
You are not alone:
500,000 Canadians missed work today because of mental health issues. (source:
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or some other mental health condition, please know that you are not alone.
Mental illness can occur to anyone, no matter what age, what culture, what education, or whether or not you have faith. If you are a person of faith and are experiencing a mental health issue, you may feel like a failure or may feel that you do not have enough faith. Sometimes we may be weak in our faith and may have needless worry, or there may be moments when we doubt or feel down. However, there are many people - full of faith - who, try not to worry, are thankful, are appreciative, and yet still struggle with a mental health issue. I firmly believe that we all need to come alongside each other no matter what issue we may be dealing with, whether we have faith or not. By being real with each other, we will encourage each other. Each of us needs encouragement. We do not need to be judging, fearing and hurting each other.
We need to try to understand each other better, accept each other and see each other as people with value, created by God... all of us with needs, wants, and a purpose in this world.
Mental health: 
As we have seen, mental illness is extremely common. I personally believe that we are all in a continuum of mental health... that is, each of us exhibit varying degrees of what it means to be mentally healthy or mentally ill. 
The Canadian Mental Health Association says several things about what it means to have "mental health" and how we can help improve our own mental "health" (these ideas of course are in addition to the many ways of treating mental "illness"):
  • "Your mental health is affected by numerous factors from your daily life, including the stress of balancing work with your health and relationships."
  • "Mental health means striking a balance in all aspects of your life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental."
  • "Just as physical fitness helps our bodies to stay strong, mental fitness helps us to achieve and sustain a state of good mental health. When we are mentally healthy, we enjoy our life and environment, and the people in it. We can be creative, learn, try new things, and take risks. We are better able to cope with difficult times in our personal and professional lives. We feel the sadness and anger that can come with the death of a loved one, a job loss or relationship problems and other difficult events, but in time, we are able to get on with and enjoy our lives once again."
  • "Three ways to help improve your mental fitness are to get physical, eat right, and take control of stress."
Don't Hesitate to ASK FOR HELP:
If you or someone you care about is struggling with a mood disorder, a personality disorder or another mental health issue, make sure you seek out professional help. Remember: there is someone who cares. Speak to your doctor, see a counsellor, or contact a mental health professional. Phone a helpline or see some of the websites listed below. 
References and For Further Information:
  • Canadian Mental Health Association website:
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health website:
  • St. Leonard's Society of Brant:
  • Our Notes from the Pharmacist ("Mental Health Issues... "Stigma" Aug. 2012, "Depression" Oct. 2012, "Anxiety Disorders" Jan. 2013)
If you need medical advice, contact your doctor for a referral to a qualified mental health care professional.
Contact your local branch of Canadian Mental Health Association (see in Brantford, Ontario - phone: 519-752-2998, fax: 519-752-2717, e-mail:
Addiction Assessment & Referral Services:
  • Alanon and Alateen Family Groups - (for referral to closest meetings: 1-888-425-2666/ 24 hours: 519-752-5981)
  • Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol information line: 1-800-463-6273
  • Haldimand Norfolk Detoxification & Rehabilitation Service, Holmes House: 519-428-1911 or 1-888-999-4966
  • Community Addiction & Mental health Services of Haldimand and Norfolk: 519-428-1805
  • St. Leonard's Society of Brant: 519-754-0253 / 1-866-811-7188 (crisis phone)
Stress Counselling Services:
  • Brant Family Counselling Centre: 519-753-4173
  • Brantford Community & Family Services: 519-752-7814 or 519-752-7813 (crisis phone)
  • Child and Youth Crisis Service (REACH): 1-866-327-3224
  • Community Addiction and Mental Health Services of Haldimand & Norfolk: 1-866-487-2278 (crisis phone)
  • Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000
If you are in a crisis, go to the nearest hospital or call 9-1-1.
24 hour Mental Health Crisis line (for all ages) through St.Leonard's Society: 519-759-7188  or 1-866-811-7188 
"Mental Health Crisis Walk-in Service" (7 days a week, 365 days a year, 11am to 8pm) through St.Leonard's Society:
located at 225 Fairview Drive, Brantford, Ontario
Philip A. Smith, B.Sc.Phm.