February 2018

If you took part in Bell Let’s Talk Day on January 31, the numbers would indicate you’re with the majority of Canadians. A total of 138,383,995 messages of support for mental health were sent that day – the equivalent of roughly four messages for every single person in the country. That humbling response set a new record for the annual day of action, which holds the title as the world's biggest ever conversation about mental health. As a result of all the activity and interaction, Bell Canada is donating more than $6.9 million in support of mental health programs.

While the donation is certainly commendable, what I find even more exciting is that conversations about mental health continue to gain traction. Awareness of the impact and prevalence of mental illness has never been higher and, more than ever, people are speaking up to help end the stigma and let those who struggle know they're not alone. Together, we’re changing attitudes and reducing the stigma that has long been hovering over mental illness.

As it is across the province, mental health in HNHB LHIN is a major health concern. Addressing the growing demand for services is one of our key priorities. On January 23, it was my pleasure to welcome Julie Drury, Chair of the Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (MPFAC) to the HNHB LHIN. During the visit, Julie and some MPFAC members attended a presentation at Hamilton Police headquarters about Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams (MCRRTs) – one of HNHB LHIN’s mental health initiatives.

The program is a partnership between St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and the Hamilton Police Service that pairs an experienced mental health worker with a uniformed police officer to respond to crisis calls in the community. By staying focused on connecting people with community-based services for support and follow up, a major success of the MCRRT program is that it is better serving those in crisis with a reduced the number of police apprehensions. You can learn more about MCRRTs through our Voices in the Community video.

While the stigma associated with mental illness can be a huge barrier to reaching out, for many, simply knowing where to turn for help can be just as large an obstacle to accessing care and support. In our region there are a number of providers offering programs and services for people to access, even before they reach the point of crisis.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or struggling with mental illness, support is available. You can find out more about programs and services available in your area, or connect with a referral specialist by telephone, e-mail or live chat, by visiting the Connex Ontario Mental Health Helpline.

REMINDER! 2018 HNHB LHIN Heroes in the Home Nomination Deadline is March 28!

Each year, we celebrate unpaid caregivers across our many communities through our Heroes in the Home caregiver recognition program. 

HNHB LHIN’s Heroes in the Home program is our way to thank and honour caregivers whose selfless dedication and kindness make it possible for their loved ones to remain living at home for as long as possible, regardless of illness or disability. Heroes in the Home has become the most important annual celebration for HNHB LHIN.

We look forward to honouring our caregivers and recognizing their enormous contributions that support the well-being of others. 2018 Heroes nominations are open until March 28. I encourage you to submit a caregiver nomination today! You’ll find more information on our website.

If you or your organization would like to be featured in a future blog or share a patient story in one of our Voices in the Community videos, you can reach us through our office. You can also connect with us over social media via our Twitter handle -@HNHB_LHINgage or on Facebook at facebook.com/HNHBLHIN. Your feedback and questions are always welcome.