Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Champlain East hopes to change the fortunes of people diagnosed with mental illnesses through an innovative education campaign that takes the bite out of the stigma that is often associated with the disease.

The community is invited to participate in the 14th annual mental illness awareness walk that will take place Friday, October 5 at 10 a.m. departing from Centre Chrétien Viens et Vois at 429 Mary Street in  Hawkesbury. (entrance on Lansdowne between Mary & Abbott) A  ceremony & light lunch will be served following the walk. Please register at: [email protected] or 613-938-0435 ext 400

With one in five Canadians experiencing a mental illness during their lifetime, it’s crucial that Canadians are educated about the nature of mental illness to reduce the stigma associated with the disease. A number of myths have led to misunderstandings about mental illness, preventing many people from seeking and getting help when they need it including:

·        Mental illness is caused by a personal weakness. A mental illness is not a character flaw. It is an illness, and it has nothing to do with being weak or lacking will-power. Although people with mental illness can play a big part in their own recovery, they did not choose to become ill, and they are not lazy because they cannot just “snap out of it.”

·        Mental illness is a single, rare disorder. Mental illness is not a single disease but a broad classification for many disorders. Anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, personality disorders, eating disorders and organic brain disorders can cause misery, tears and missed opportunities for thousands of Canadians.

One of MIAW’s goals is to ensure future generations are not impeded by the stigma currently surrounding mental illness. More has to be done to ensure that Canadians suffering from serious mental illnesses get the care, support, treatment and rehabilitation they need.