Stigma is a major barrier preventing people from seeking help for mental health problems or mental illness.
The fear of stigma often delays diagnosis and treatment.
If identified and treated early, mental health concerns can be temporary and reversible.
Employees who understand normal reactions to stress and how to manage these reactions are more resilient. They have the ability to recover from stress, traumatic events, and adverse situations.
It is possible to train people to recognize changes in their own mental health and become more resilient.
The history of TWM/R2MR
The Working Mind (TWM) and the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) form part of the Opening Minds initiative, managed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).
Launched by MHCC in 2013, TWM/R2MR were developed by clinicians and peers and based on scientific research and best-practices.
TWM has been adapted to fit the general workplace audience and was developed with help from the following project partners: University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, Husky Energy, Nova Scotia Community College, Government of Nova Scotia, Capital District Health (NS/Halifax).
R2MR has been adapted to suit a first responder workplace audience and was developed with the help from the following project partners: NB RCMP, Calgary Police Services, Edmonton Police Services, Vancouver Police Department, Ontario Police College, Peel Police, Quebec City Police, Fredericton Police.
About MHCC's Opening Minds initiative
Opening Minds is the largest systematic effort in Canadian history focused on reducing stigma related to mental illness. Established by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in 2009, it seeks to change Canadians’ behaviours and attitudes toward people living with mental illness to ensure they are treated fairly and as full citizens with opportunities to contribute to society like anyone else.
Tackling stigma on multiple fronts
Opening Minds is addressing stigma within four main target groups: health care providers, youth, the workforce, and the media. As such, the initiative has multiple goals, ranging from improving health care providers’ understanding of the needs of people with mental health problems to encouraging youth to talk openly and positively about mental illness.
Ultimately, the goal of Opening Minds is to cultivate an environment in which those living with mental illness feel comfortable seeking help, treatment, and support on their journey toward recovery.
People living with mental health disorders often say that the stigma they encounter is worse than the illness itself.
A number of programs across Canada are working on reducing stigma. Opening Minds has been evaluating more than 70 of these projects to identify those most effective at reducing stigma so they can be replicated across Canada. Evidence gathered through these evaluations will reveal best practices that will contribute to the development of anti-stigma toolkits and other resources .
At the same time, Opening Minds’ evaluation process is forging ties throughout Canada’s mental health field, creating a valuable network for sharing best practices and programs designed to reduce stigma.
Opening Minds programs:
The Working Mind (TWM): Reducing stigma and increasing resiliency in employees and managers
Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR): Reducing stigma and increasing resiliency in first responders
HEADSTRONG: A program aimed to give Canadian youth the encouragement, knowledge, and tools they need to lead confront mental health stigma. This national youth anti-stigma campaign brings together youth who are committed to — and excited about — creating positive change.
The Inquiring Mind: The Inquiring Mind, geared towards an undergraduate student audience, aims to increase awareness of mental health, reduce the stigma of mental illnesses, and offer resources to maintain positive mental health and increase resiliency. This program is still in development.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is a catalyst for improving the mental health system and changing the attitudes and behaviours of Canadians around mental health issues. As a national consensus builder, the MHCC oversaw the creation of Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada. Through partnerships with traditional and non-traditional stakeholders, the MHCC continues to influence policy and accelerate the uptake of the Strategy. The MHCC’s internationally recognized Knowledge Exchange Centre enables Canadians to share best practices on a range of priorities, from recovery-oriented care to stigma reduction. The MHCC also develops tools and resources to advance Strategy priorities, such as the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Canada, and its many versions, complements these initiatives. Engaging people with lived experience and their families is key to the MHCC’s ongoing work. The MHCC was created in 2007 and is funded by Health Canada.