Mental Health 101

Mental illnesses are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood or behaviour associated with significant distress and impaired functioning over an extended period of time.

Symptoms vary from mild to severe, depending on the type of mental illness, the individual, the family, and the socio-economic environment.

In the course of a lifetime, every individual experiences feelings of isolation, loneliness, emotional distress or disconnection at times. These are usually normal, short-term reactions to difficult situations, rather than symptoms of mental illness. People learn to cope with difficult feelings just as they learn to cope with difficult situations. In some cases, however, the duration and intensity of painful feelings or disorienting patterns of thought may interfere seriously with everyday life. Ordinary coping skills are overwhelmed, and people may need help in regaining balance and restoring their fullest functioning.

What are the costs associated with mental health?

Mental illness is estimated to cost the Canadian workforce between $33 billion and $51 billion dollars (CND) in lost productivity annually – longer than cardiac disease (Bill Wilkerson, Rountable Roadmap to Mental Disability Management).

How widespread is mental illness in Canada?

Mental illness has reached serious levels in Canada. One in five of us will experience mental illness during their lifetime. Five hundred thousand are absent from work each day. At some point in our lives, mental illness will impact most of us either personally or through a family member, friend or colleague.  It affects people in all occupations, and regardless of socio-economic status, culture, race or education level.

    • 20% of Canadians suffer from mental health conditions -only 20% of those with a mental health illness will receive care
    • 500,000 are absent from work each day with a mental illness
    • 80% of Canadians have friends, family or colleagues with a mental illness

Additional Resources

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