J. Paul Nadeau, Dr. Vikram Patel, Louis Sorin, Albert McLeod, Carol Hopkins, Elana Ludman, Alyssa Frampton, Rilee Many Bears
Canadian Mental Health Association
The Mental Health for All (MH4A) Conference plays a unique role in uniting the people and ideas that exemplify mental health in Canada. Now in its fourth year, the MH4A Conference is an important place of convergence, where service providers, front-line workers, researchers, funders, policy makers and people with lived experience of mental health problems and illnesses come together to set the agenda. The theme of this yearís conference is Connection Interrupted: Restoring Mental Health in a Fractured World. Together we connect, create and collaborate to demand and design the mentally healthy schools, campuses, workplaces and communities that our citizens deserve, and reimagine the healthcare system and supports required to serve their needs of the future. Letís look back and think ahead. Letís shore up everyoneís mental health for the world to come.
This yearís theme is Connection Interrupted: Restoring Mental Health in a Fractured World. In 2018, we posed the question: what does a mentally healthy society look like? We held up a public-health lens to the issue and asked, could mental illness prevention and mental health promotion be the vaccines of the next century? We predicted the shape of things to come and looked upstream. Thinking upstream means taking a longer-term view of the society we want, and creating the social, physical, spiritual, cultural, economic and psychological conditions for people to enjoy good health.
And yet, these are times of profound disconnection. In this increasingly technologically connected world, we are disconnected from the land, from family, from self, from community. Rather than reinventing our society, perhaps we need to reconnect with our roots and with each other.
We need to honour and reflect on Indigenous knowledge and on wisdom that has been lost or ignored. And we need to recognize that if we connect to each other, to the earth and to our communities, we will shore up our mental health, our sense of meaning, and of purpose, hope and belonging. This will make us more resilient and capable of responding to the disruptive social, environmental and geopolitical turmoil we face.
Human connection and community bonds build the strength that makes us resilient to turbulent times. Not just for the 1 in 5 of us who will experience a mental illness or mental health issue in any given year, but for the 5 in 5 of us who have mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by next year, depression will be the second leading cause of disease worldwide. At what point does a diagnosis become so common that itís the new normal? At what point do we radically shift our thinking about mental illness and mental health to embrace the fact that everyone exists on a continuum, and that everyone deserves to live, work, play and learn in psychologically safe spaces that foster well-being?
The climactic and economic challenges we face today are likely to amplify in the future. Our best role is to deeply understand our fears and predict what the new version of flourishing can be in this as yet-unknown context. We can restore mental health in our increasingly fractured world by re-establishing meaningful connections. And not just by strengthening the individual threads, but by weaving a stronger societal fabric. What is required is a collective resilience that supports and improves the lives of many in broad service to all.
So, letís connect, create and collaborate to demand and design the mentally healthy schools, campuses, workplaces and communities that our citizens deserve, and reimagine the healthcare system and supports required to serve their needs of the future. Letís look back and think ahead. Letís shore up everyoneís mental health for the world to come.