BY JINNY SIMS
MP for Newton-North Delta
THIS past November, alongside my friend and colleague, MLA Sue Hammell, I held a town hall on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. The turnout was huge and the outpouring of stories shared by brave families and individuals was incredibly moving. A common thread emerged as the meeting progressed: too many have been unable to get the services and support they need for loved ones suffering from mental illness.
There are many qualified support workers, police and health care professionals who work their hardest every day to care for those struggling with mental illness. Despite their heroic efforts, the demand for services is growing. In order to address this, all three levels of government must commit more resources towards treating mental illness.
I want to thank Morgan Forry, who has certainly enlightened me to the cause, and has taken up the fight for better mental health care resources in a very big way. He is using his own money and time to champion a petition calling for a federal Ministry of Mental Health.
He is taking the petition right across the country, meeting with fellow Canadians and making the case for more mental health care facilities and services, including after hour care and care in rural areas.
I have been presenting his petitions in the House of Commons in order to bring more attention to the need for care in our city and all over Canada. I have also made a personal commitment to speak up about mental illness and mental health issues in the House of Commons, in media interviews and in conversations with constituents.
Together, we can challenge the stigma that surrounds mental illness by talking openly about it within our families, workplaces, schools, sports teams and other meeting places. For too long, people have suffered alone. If we begin to speak more openly about it, we help those experiencing mental illness feel supported, understood, less alone and unashamed.
Small acts – a conversation, signing a petition or checking in on those alone, or the families of those suffering – make a big difference. I will continue to work on this issue and am grateful for the work being done every day by families, volunteers, community organizations and mental health professionals.