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mental health mondays :: #bellletstalk 2014

despite my issues with them during my time as a customer, i salute bell canada for their work to promote awareness of mental health issues. in 2014, they'll once again be sponsoring "let's talk" where they will be donating money for all the text messages and calls made by bell mobile customers and all the tweets made using the hash tag #bellletstalk. you can find the details here. bell is also sponsoring a number of initiatives for workplace mental health and made a record donation to the kids help phone.

i've said this before, but it takes some fortitude to make mental illness a cause. most companies prefer funding disease research, children's charities or something with less of a stigma. so whatever you think of bell otherwise, they deserve some respect for the work they're doing in this field, specifically encouraging open discussion of mental disorders and an end to the stigma surrounding them.

here are some statistics on mental health in canada [mostly taken from the canadian mental health association and mood disorders canada] that shed light on the extent of the problem:

  • 1 in 5 canadians will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their life, with just over 10% of the population suffering from a mental disorder at any given time.
  • one third of hospital stays are due in whole or in part to a mental health problem
  • as of 2003, the estimated impact on the economy of mental illness in canada was $51 billion. 
  • mental illnesses account for 30% of short and long-term disability claims
  • in 2003, 1.9 million canadians were diagnosed with a mental disorder. another 1.6 million reported symptoms but were not diagnosed or treated.
  • the most common mental health issue among canadians is anxiety. approximately 12% of the population can expect to suffer some form of anxiety disorder at some point in their life. 
  • depression is the second most popular issue, with about 8% of the population suffering a major depressive episode. 
  • schizophrenia and bipolar disorder affect about 1% of the canadian population each. 
  • - depression is highest among those under twenty, while anxiety is highest among those from twenty to thirty years old. however, the group most likely to be hospitalized for a mental disorder is senior citizens. 
  • less than 4% of medical research funding is directed towards mental illness
  •  the suicide rates on first nations' reserves and in some inuit communities are among the highest in the world. 

- a 2009 study by the fraser institute found that the average wait time in canada for psychiatric treatment [the lag between a referral to a specialist and the commencement of treatment] was 16.8 weeks. it was shortest in prince edward island [6 weeks] and longest in newfoundland [21.5 weeks]. the wait to see a specialist in cases that were termed "urgent" was between 2.3 and 2.5 weeks.

the official day for the let's talk campaign this year is january 28th- next tuesday. so feel free to text, call or tweet and support the cause.

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