January 25th was Bell Let’s Talk Day. I was proud to join together with many Huntsville Town and District Councillors, Mayor Alcock, MPP Graydon Smith, community leaders and Huntsville youth at a flag raising event hosted by newly elected Town and District Councillor Scott Morrison.
Having young people from Huntsville attend made it even more impactful. For young people to hear community leaders open up about their own mental health challenges set a powerful example that it’s okay, to not be okay. The students in attendance will grow up knowing that our mental health struggles are nothing to be ashamed of. They will know that our mental health is directly connected to, and just as important as our physical health.
While the provinces are responsible for delivering health care in Canada, the federal government contributes a significant amount of funding for those services. I believe the federal government can and should do more to work with the provinces to improve the mental health care system.
In a meeting I had recently with the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, one of the issues we discussed about the current system of mental health care is the difficulties Canadians have accessing it and that the services are often not available at all in rural areas of Canada like Parry Sound-Muskoka. The organizations that do serve communities in our region are often overwhelmed by the demand and may not have sufficient professionals to deliver the high quality of care that is expected.
As a step in the right direction, my Conservative colleague Todd Doherty, Member of Parliament for Cariboo-Prince George, was a tireless advocate for the creation of a national three-digit suicide prevention hotline. I was proud to support his motion in the House of Commons to create the 9-8-8 hotline which will save lives and make it easier for those who are struggling to get help. The hotline should be accessible to Canadians by November 2023.
I will continue advocating for mental health care funding from the federal government so that more Canadians can receive the best complete health care possible. I will be especially vocal about the need for expanded access to mental health services in small and rural communities like ours.
As a community, we must be there for one another. Only by talking to each other and supporting each other will we remove the stigma that still persists around mental health. So please, if you feel you need help, talk to someone, speak up, and know that you are not alone.
(Photo of Parliament Hill by festivio on Pixabay. Photo of Scott Aitchison courtesy of Scott Aitchison.)
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