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Bell Let’s Talk – Highlighting Issues in Mental Health

Every year, Bell Let’s Talk spreads awareness about the issue of mental health. Tomorrow, January 31st, marks the eighth annual event since 2010. The shocking truth is that mental illness is 50% more prevalent than cancer, and more than seven times more common than all infectious diseases combined. Awareness campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk remind society of the harrowing effects of mental health issues, and aim to break the stigma associated with the topic.

Despite campaigns like these, mental health and addictions services in the province of Ontario remain drastically underfunded compared to other areas of our health system. Lacking ongoing investment into our healthcare infrastructure, affected individuals often wait for treatment in extremely long wait lists. Only $3.5 of a total $54 billion health budget gets allotted to the treatment of mental illness. This share of the budget represents 6.5%. Twenty nine years ago, in 1979, it accounted for 11.3%. This decrease in relative funding is especially alarming given that our society has a much better understanding of how impactful mental health issues are on Canadians.

Here are a few facts that further exemplify the impact of mental illness:

  • In Ontario, the average wait time to find a counsellor is five months.
  • In any given year, one in five Ontario citizens will experience a mental health illness or issue.
  • In any given week, half a million Canadians will miss work due to mental health problems.
  • 70% of sufferers of mental illness experience onset during adolescence.
  • 34% of Ontario high school students indicate a moderate to serious level of anxiety and depression symptoms, with 14% reporting a serious level.
  • Compared to the general population, those affected by mental illness are twice as likely to suffer from substance abuse.
  • The leading cause of disability in Canada is mental health issues.
  • Mental illness can have a significant impact on life expectancy, reducing life spans by ten or twenty years.
  • Aside from accidents, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-24.
  • The economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated to be $51 billion each year.

Tomorrow, we at Investigation Hotline urge you to donate to Bell Let’s Talk campaign to help fight the stigma and spread awareness of how impactful mental health problems are to our fellow citizens. Together, we can make a difference.