About 15 per cent of Canadians get the "winter blues."
In my experience, equity in Canada's health systems is discussed a lot, but that seldom translates into effective action to ensure equal access and equal outcomes for all people regardless of their race or culture. Provinces rarely have a person who is in charge of health equity; lacking health equity plans or targets.
Earlier this summer, Canada's first transitional housing dedicated to LGBT youth opened in Toronto--the YMCA's Sprott House. Reading about this great initiative raised our awareness about an issue that needs to be on the radar of all Canadians -- the unacceptable rate of LGBT youth who have no place to call home. LGBT youth become homeless for much of the same reasons as other young people -- family conflict, abuse, mental health issues and addiction. LGBT youth also experience higher rates of mental health and addiction issues in large part because of discrimination.
One of the most popular topics on the 2015 elections agenda is legalization and cannabis is by far the most widely used illegal drug in the Canada. People often compare a potential legalization model to alcohol. The way alcohol is regulated in Canada provides some really important public health benefits.
I recall sitting on the ground at the back of a church in a crouched position. Tears flowed down my face as I whimpered. It was one of those days again -- a day that I did not want to see or talk to anyone; a day that I just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up again.
Before any social progress can be made, mental illness has to be acknowledged as a real and powerful determinant of health which affects all social classes, but plays a greater role not only in the lives of those who are displaced, but in some cases also contributes to their displacement and state of living. It is those living on the streets who are the most affected by the stigma associated with mental illness. Yet the stigma is alive and well for those of us who are fortunate enough to continue working or have a strong support system advocating for us while we too struggle to climb the walls of our own personal hell.
Mental illness patients who smoke are discriminated against by having separate smoking rooms in hospitals closed. As a result, they are being forced to leave the hospital grounds to smoke if they are not in locked units. This is unsafe for patients and others.
In Canada, mental illness carries a cost to the economy of over $50 billion annually. The number of people missing work due to a mental illness is 500,000 on any given day. When people with mental illness work in supportive environments their quality of life improves.