Mental Illness Awareness Week

mental illness awareness week miaw list of mental health illnessesToday marks the beginning of Mental Illness Awareness Week. (Sounds like a bit of a mouthful, so we will refer to it as MIAW.)

The image above lists a wide range of mental illnesses that many people face all over the world. While we obviously won’t be able to cover all of them, our goal for this week is to publish a blog post that highlights one mental illness per day, providing a brief description of each one.

Our main mandate here at Crown Jewels is to raise awareness of mental health, and we believe that a key component of that is educating the public about the various illnesses and conditions that fall under the umbrella of mental health issues.

If you would like to share your story with any of these mental health issues, please feel free to leave a comment on this week’s blog posts (anonymously if you wish) or their related Facebook posts.

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Mental Health in the Media: September

More young people wait for mental health treatment

Youth waiting for medical treatment for mental health issues are looking at wait times of up to a year. This is a worrying statistic because delay in treatment can escalate the severity of symptoms in youth. Doctors and health officials are concerned about the discrepancy between the message that youth should seek help for mental health related issues and the reality of insufficient funding for mental health treatment.

Source: http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/more-young-people-wait-for-mental-health-treatment

Unusual drama school in Rome is set to expand

A drama school is Rome is offering a program for those with mental disabilities. The hope is that learning stagecraft could be used as a form of treatment. The program teaches the students how to express their feelings in a nonjudgmental environment and in doing so create a new culture for those with mental disorders. The school is working towards becoming a state-recognized university.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/04/theater/unusual-drama-school-in-rome-is-set-to-expand.html

Addressing youth mental health key to tackling suicide prevention

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadian youth 15 to 25 years of age. Currently, Canada lacks a national suicide prevention policy unlike a number of countries around the world. Doctors say the issue is that suicide prevention needs to be look at in connection with mental health, not separate from it as it is now. The current services available are not sensitive to the needs of youth which makes them hesitant to ask for help.

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health-advisor/addressing-youth-mental-health-key-to-tackling-suicide-prevention/article20495150/

First blood test to diagnose depression in adults

The first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults has been developed, providing the first objective, scientific diagnosis for depression. The test also predicts who will benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy, offering the opportunity for more effective, individualized therapy. The test also showed the biological effects of the therapy, the first measurable, blood-based evidence of the therapy’s success and showed who is vulnerable to recurring episodes of depression.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140917121229.htm

The time has come to end stigma and fund mental health care in America

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new campaign: No Health Without Mental Health. WHO wants to ensure that mental health is understood on a factual basis and has set out key facts. The organization has also set global targets that they wish to achieve by 2020. The biggest barrier to overcome for this campaign to be successful is stigma within society.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ginger-lernerwren/the-time-has-come-to-end-_b_5832510.html

What Do We Do?

CAMH's newly redeveloped Queen Street West campus is home to the Child, Youth and Family Program. (Photo by Vince Talota/Toronto Star)

CAMH’s newly redeveloped Queen Street West campus is home to the Child, Youth and Family Program. (Photo by Vince Talota/Toronto Star)

Over the past few days, we have seen a huge rise in the number of ‘likes’ on our Facebook page. When you are still a small organization, demonstrations of support such as that mean a whole lot—so thank you!

However, some of you might be wondering what exactly we do at Crown Jewels for Mental Health. We raise funds for mental health awareness, yes, but what exactly do we do and where does that money go?

Our main fundraising event is an annual gala that usually takes place in March. We have so far held five of these events, with each one proving more successful than the last. This coming year we will be hosting our sixth fundraiser, and we expect yet another increase in attendance.

All net proceeds from the gala’s ticket sales and silent auction are donated directly to the Child, Youth and Family Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), which “helps young people with mental health and/or addiction problems to function better at home, in school and with peers.” The program is run by a team of psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, social workers, child and youth workers, and therapists who work in tandem with their patients and their families. Their various services make sure that every patient’s needs are met regardless of the situation they may be facing, offering individual, group, and family therapy options.

The goal behind our efforts is to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and addiction by encouraging open discussions at home, at school, and in the workplace. We believe that CAMH’s Child, Youth and Family Program addresses those ideals head-on and offers a level of expertise that is not easily found anywhere.

Furthermore, by expanding our reach through social media, we hope to connect with more people who may be in need of help—whether it’s for themselves or someone they know—and direct them to the appropriate resources. In turn, this also allows us to serve as a forum for the sharing of experiences and new developments in the field of mental health, which are key elements of raising awareness.

Most importantly, we would like to see mental health issues be treated with the same concern and respect as any other illness, rather than be dismissed as something that is not real or of consequence. Crown Jewels for Mental Health was founded in the memory of Rosario (Roy) Scalcione, whose death by suicide was very real to us and many other people. If we can prevent tragedies like Roy’s from happening to others, we will have done our job.

In that spirit, we thank you once again for joining our cause. Please spread the word and share your story if you can! The only way forward is together.

Source: Child, Youth and Family Services at CAMH.ca

Robin Williams and the Status of Mental Health

Much has been written about Robin Williams’s passing since the news broke out on Monday. With this in mind, and at the risk of sounding redundant in the current sea of eulogies, reflections, news reports, etc., we at Crown Jewels would like to share our thoughts as well. As we all share in the grief of losing one of the greatest talents of our time – both comic and otherwise – we can also notice how his death struck a common cord among many of us.

His death by suicide following a period of depression is a reminder of several things. (1) Mental illness is usually invisible. It is not as physical in its manifestation as many forms of cancer or AIDS, for example. (2) It can affect any of us. This is probably where most people’s sense of surprise stems from. How could someone so successful and widely appreciated possibly feel so low? He had an enviable career and millions of admirers around the world, yet somehow that was not enough to counter the negative force within him.

But perhaps what it most importantly reminds us of is (3) the fact that mental illness continues to be misunderstood. Substantial advancements in the field of mental health care have only been made recently, and the realm of societal awareness remains severely lacking. Elad Nehorai, creator of the blog Pop Chassid, put it best in his reflection post:

“It is time we acknowledged that a disease in the brain is just as physical as a disease in the heart, lungs, or liver. The fact that it is more complicated, less understood, and only beginning to be studied, does not mean we can ignore this fact. In truth, it means the exact opposite: that mental health needs to be treated with urgency. That our society has to start treating its illnesses as every bit as deadly and malicious as other ailments. That research into these issues needs to be ramped up.”

Our previous blog post reflects just one example of the repercussions of lacking mental health awareness (in the case of that post, in the world of first responders). But evidence of similar situations abounds in many environments, ranging from school to the workplace to our homes. To quote from Elad’s piece again, “It is a sign of our times that we use the words, ‘Robin Williams killed himself’, in reputable news outlets.  That we mention, offhand, that he was suffering from depression.  That they are only tangentially connected.”

Needless to say, it is nothing short of tragic that these conversations don’t usually take place unless they are catalyzed by a person’s death or serious injury. Here’s hoping that this latest casualty of mental illness is among the last, and that Williams’s death will at least serve as a wake-up call to our society’s dormant sense of urgency to the plight of the mentally ill.

 

Helpless Helpers: A Call to Action?

What happens when those who serve to help us have no one to help them?

Recent news reports have shed light on the struggle that police officers and other first responders – both in Ontario and the rest of Canada – face when dealing with mental illness in their workplace.

CityNews ran a story on July 16 on the plight of former Toronto police Sgt. Simon Fraser who became a “virtual outcast” within the Toronto Police Service (TPS) after he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He eventually left the force after having served for 28 years.

Fraser’s PTSD was triggered by a series of phone calls that left him deeply traumatized. He underwent treatment and soon his family doctor allowed him to resume his full duties. After returning to work, Fraser submitted an Injured on Duty form for PTSD. As a consequence, he “got transferred off of my platoon and assigned to an empty desk in the basement of my station, no computer, no phone, no duties.” That was a big step down for him, as he has been running “city-wide squads and task forces.”

Police Chief Bill Blair countered that the force has taken steps to address mental illness among its members, “including hiring two full-time psychologists,” but Fraser maintains his position that the TPS is not doing enough.

A similar story was published by Global News regarding mental illness among first responders across Canada. An alarming 11 first responders across Canada – seven of whom were from Ontario – had killed themselves over a period of 10 weeks.

Vince Savoia, a former paramedic and founder of the Tema Conter Memorial Trust (which promotes mental health awareness among first responders in Canada), argues that PTSD and other mental illnesses are behind these suicides. Savoia himself developed PTSD in 1988 after he saw the brutal murder scene of 25-year-old Tema Conter.

He too blames a non-supportive workplace atmosphere for these cases, where mental illness is seen as a sign of weakness rather than a call for help – much like the calls that they themselves respond to as paramedics, police officers, firefighters, etc.

Both of these stories beg the question posed at the top of this post: what happens when those who serve to help us have no one to help them? Do we, the general population, have a duty to help these people, to raise awareness of their situation, to somehow promote proper education on the subject matter? Let us know in the comments!

Welcome to the Crown Jewels for Mental Health blog!

Welcome, everyone!

This blog will serve as Crown Jewel’s main platform for the sharing and discussing of important news in the field of mental health care, as well as new developments that pertain to Crown Jewels itself.

You can expect news summaries, rundowns and pictures of Crown Jewels events, and occasional featured posts, among other things. We hope that this blog will grow along with its readership and gradually incorporate more content along the way.

For those who are unfamiliar with us, Crown Jewels for Mental Health is a non-profit organization established in 2010, raising funds for the Child, Youth and Family Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In honour of Rosario (Roy) Scalcione, our main goal is to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health and provide support to those who need it.

We would love you to join us! Be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.