Mental health and mental illness:
Mental illness hospitalization rates in Niagara are reported to be very high – at 616 per 100,000 persons versus 392 in Ontario. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey 2011, 7.5% of Niagara residents are affected by a mood disorder (6.5% in Ontario and 6.7% in Canada) and 6.1% of residents rank their mental health status as fair or poor. Niagara residents do, however, perceive their stress levels to be lower than that of Ontarians and Canadians at a rate of 21.3% compared to 23.7% in Ontario and 23.5% in Canada.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), someone around the globe commits suicide every 40 seconds. There are approximately 3,600 deaths by suicide across Canada each year (Statistics Canada, 2007). In Ontario, the suicide rate is 7.7 deaths per 100,000 population, and even higher for Niagara where the suicide rate is 9.8 deaths per 100,000 population (Statistics Canada, 2011).
A bi-annual report released by the Centre for Addictions & Mental Health suggests that approximately 14% of students in grades 7-12 in Niagara* have had serious thoughts of suicide in the previous year (OSDUHS, 2009). Furthermore, 4% of students have had a suicide attempt in the year prior (OSDUHS, 2009). Suicide is a concern at the national, provincial, and local level sparking many community driven efforts.
*this data is representative of the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, and Brant Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)
The Niagara Suicide Prevention Coalition, formed in 2003, is a collection of community partners with the common vision of a suicide safer Niagara. In 2006 the coalition developed and released a regional strategy proposing methods to minimize the burden of suicides in Niagara. The coalition is embarking on a strategic planning process to identify priority focus areas for the upcoming years. With many partners around the table, the coalition wants to ensure it takes a methodical and evidence-based approach to making Niagara a suicide safe community.
In 2011, additional provincial funding was approved for mental health services for children and youth in Niagara.
- Anti-stigma efforts are underway, to raise awareness in Niagara that:
- 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime;
- mental illness occurs all over the world, in all races, in all cultures and in all social classes;
- through education, many fears, myths and misconceptions are corrected;
- stigma associated with mental illness can be devastating;
- *talking about mental illness can educate the public and help eliminate the fear of mental illness; and
- stigma is diminished when someone meets a person with mental illness who contributes to the life of the community.
*Talking About Mental Illness (TAMI) Niagara is a program for educators and others interested in increasing awareness about mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it. The goal is to bring about positive change in young people’s knowledge about mental health, and reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
Source: Pathstone Mental Health http://www.pathstonementalhealth.ca/pages/tami.html
COAST Niagara is a new mobile crisis response unit comprised of a Niagara Regional Police Service officer, a nurse and mental health workers; it focuses on adults with serious mental illness, substance abuse and the homeless. COAST is coordinated by Canadian Mental Health Association Niagara.
In 2011, the CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) Mobile Research Lab, Canada’s first known mobile research laboratory, targeted to communities far from research centres, and dedicated to research on mental health, substance use and violence problems, visited Port Colborne and Welland. Source: CAMH