2023 Spring Newsletter

We are pleased to provide you with updates on MDSC pan-Canadian programs and exciting new projects! Click here to view as Webpage
It is spring and that means time we come together to take a stand and a step toward Defeating Depression and other mental illnesses! Register today! Encourage and join with your friends and family to take action to support mental health.

You can start your activities now, create your fundraising page showcasing your chosen activity, and share this with your friends and family and watch their pledges grow. Share your journey on social media using the hashtag #DefeatDepression and tagging the campaign's official accounts. Share your photos and be part of the event! Bring your favorite pet!

Your engagement and the donations that Canadians give will be used to provide services, resources, and supports for all Canadians impacted by mental illness. It will also enable effective mental health research and anti-stigma activities.
Then on Defeat Depression Day - May 27th - Take part in a walk in your community, then get ready to celebrate together later that day by watching our Defeat Depression Day event! Hosted by the incredibly talented Jessica Holmes, who will make this presentation an unforgettable experience. This year's event features engaging videos, education, lived experience, and more.

In the evening, the CN Tower lights up blue in honor of Defeat Depression Day for the last 30 minutes of each hour.

On Defeat Depression Day, attend in-person at events in Sudbury, London, Grey-Bruce, Kingston, Halifax, and St. John's, or join us virtually from your community with participants across Canada. Share your photos all day on the 27th! #DefeatDepression
The pan-Canadian mental health campaign aims to support mental health resources, raise awareness and education about depression, and promote self-care and mental wellness.

Stay connected and don't miss any updates! Follow us on our social media channels: YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Ready to make a difference? Register or donate now at Defeat Depression and join us in supporting mental health and wellness across Canada.

On Defeat Depression Day when our presentation debuts at 6 p.m. Eastern time. We understand that not everyone may be available on May 27th, at that time, so we are happy to let you know that the video presentation with Jessica Holmes will be made available on all our platforms after its debut, ensuring everyone can enjoy and be inspired by her message. 
Follow Defeat Depression on Social Media
We have some exciting new developments with MIRA, an empathic chatbot that supports mental health system navigation using state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. It is fully anonymous and easy to use.

MIRA was born from a vision that mental health support and services should be easily accessible to all Canadians. MIRA (at www.MyMIRA.ca) can support you individually as well as being an effective tool you can use in your organization. We believe individuals seeking mental health support will find MIRA can aid you in identifying the right resources for yourself and/or others.

MIRA will work with you to get you information on a vast number of pre-vetted resources (vetted by our 45+ member Expert Advisory Committee) quickly, anonymously, and safely. It does not draw from the open Internet, so you know when you get a program through MIRA, it has been reviewed.

MIRA was first launched in May 2022 to support Healthcare workers - a group particularly at risk for mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their family members. Due to increased risk of anxiety, burnout, and depression, as well as risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. We know we need to help connect people to the right resources, at the right time, based on a person’s individual need.

MIRA is currently underway with our Phase 1 Expansion! We are evolving to support first responders, youth, veterans and Indigenous communities across Canada. Additionally, we are expanding MIRA’s services to support Canadians residing in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. We are aiming to have our Phase 1 expansion completed by the end of 2023. Through this expansion, we have been growing MIRA’s Resource Library – which is now close to crossing 1000 resources! Additionally, our software developers have been working to incorporate a French version as well as optimizing MIRA’s conversational script to best serve the needs of this population. We are thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with multiple stakeholder community organizations to inform our development and provide feedback on MIRA’s optimization. 
MDSC, and our incredible partners, are working in a truly collaborative approach, inviting everyone to be involved with this project and to share the resources and use the program. MIRA has grown our volunteer base, to almost over 50 amazing volunteers that have been supportive in submitting resources, chatbot testing, outreach/promotion, and more. Additionally, we would like to also say thank you to our Expert Advisory Committee (EAC) – our multi-disciplinary panel of subject matter experts, who further provide valuable insight and vet resources, to ensure MIRA provides the best quality information. The EAC has expanded and welcome several new members to serve as representatives from Veteran, Indigenous, Youth communities. 
We encourage everyone to go to the MIRA website. Come join us in developing this important resource. We are always welcoming new partners to the project. A very special thank you to our wonderful sponsors who have made the development of this tool possible.

At MIRA, we don’t track your data. We believe you should be able to find the right resources or supports you feel would be best for you, without having to give up your anonymity if you don’t want to. We built it for you!
MIRA is a vision of Mood Disorders Society of Canada, the MIRA prototype has been made possible by the collaboration with our many partners and sponsoring organizations found here: www.MyMIRA.ca.
Our healthcare system is not supporting Canadians’ mental health needs adequately. This is clear. We know that many face unacceptably long wait times, inadequate care, and disconnected services. Many Canadians have no other choice but to pay out of pocket for their mental health care, either because their employee benefits only cover a small amount, the services they require are not covered by provincial plans, or they are without benefits programs entirely. Many who fall into this category do not have the financial means to pay. 

MDSC knows many of us do not need to look any further than members of our own families to see the impact that mental illness or mental health issues can have on our lives. Many of us grew up with parents that had mental illnesses, (many were undiagnosed, or unacknowledged). So we are very well aware of the long-term negative impact and lifelong ”costs” that this has on our family unit. What we need to recognize, is today, many more people are going through this same scenario. When we consider how everyone involved in mental health are raising our voices together expressing the dire need the system is in, we are speaking for these families who are not getting the help they need to wave off or mitigate many years of family members' pain, anguish, stress, and problems.  

We continue to see a failure to have a pan-Canadian plan to address this major health crisis, our system is nowhere near equipped to address the current situation and is nowhere near prepared to mitigate the growing mental health crisis that continues to affect our families, friends, workplaces, and colleagues.  

Providing stable and adequate funding is crucially needed for community mental health organizations across the country. People seeking mental health support often turn first to their family doctor or find themselves in the ER when they don’t have a family doctor, or when they face a crisis after hours or between visits. In every major centre, overflowing emergency rooms have people waiting for many hours who are in crisis.  
Without knowledge of the programs offered by community mental health organizations, that might serve a patient well, family doctors and hospitals often don’t know of local options of where to refer the patient to. There needs to be more coordination between primary healthcare systems and community mental health organizations, in all of our regions. These groups are offering services and programs that family physicians or hospitals aren’t able to give. These organizations MUST be considered part of our health care system and funded sufficiently. 

Better cooperation and coordination between primary care and adequately resourced community mental health organizations would alleviate pressures off emergency rooms and lower wait times. Family physicians and other health care providers would have alternate referral opportunities to a local organization offering support or programs that would be beneficial to their patients. 

It is time for our politicians, decision-makers, and community mental health stakeholders to come together and work out a pan-Canadian plan to ensure the increased needs for services are being made available.
MDSC has been working tirelessly with community mental health organizations in every province and territory. We have recently completed thorough consultations with over 48 organizations.

Community mental health organizations will continue to play a crucial role in their communities and the local healthcare system, but without adequate funding and assistance from the government, they will be unable to reach their full potential. By assisting these groups, we can improve our healthcare system and expand its reach to more Canadians.

Our Improving Veterans Wellness program is available to support Veterans and Family Members. The program is provided by the MDSC and the MDSC Peer and Trauma Support Services (PATSS) team.
It is well known that social engagement and connecting to others improve our sense of well-being. Throughout our lives, from time to time we may go through a period of feeling isolated and unconnected. Or we may wish to gain knowledge on the benefits of Peer Support. This program provides key resources that are available at no cost.

Visit: ImprovingVeteransWellness.ca for more information.
The PATSS team has held three more IVW-focused peer support training workshops since our last newsletter. Classes were run in November 2022, January 2023 and March 2023. Congratulations to the forty-three participants who received their peer support training certificates for completing the two-day / 16 hours of training. 

The PATSS team has facilitated additional training as follows: on March 25-26, 2023 they delivered peer support worker training to the members of the New Brunswick Fire Marshall’s office with 12 certificates of completion; they also conducted two more two-day peer support worker training workshops to team members from the Police Service of Northern Ireland on Oct 6-7, 2022 and Feb 1-2, 2023 with 58 certificates submitted for having received 16 hours of peer support training. 

The MDSC Elephant in the Room Anti-Stigma program is an easy to use high-impact, low-cost, customizable program that fights stigma!

Hundreds of workplaces, schools, colleges and universities, government departments, police forces, first responder agencies, community organizations are eliminating the stigma against mental illness and supporting mental health and wellness. Join the program and take a firm stand against stigma.

Click here to see how this program will help your efforts or contact us at: [email protected]

The NYAC is a network of 27 council members and volunteers from across the country. The goal is to engage young adults in discussions about mental health. It aims to provide opportunities to learn about mental health topics and gain tools to help their own mental health and wellbeing. The NYAC also advocates and consult on MDSC initiatives, here are some ongoing projects that the council has been working on:

The Bloom Blog: This blog is a multimedia publication platform for youth to share their experiences with mental health. Check it out here.

The Project Blue Podcast: This podcast was created to share lived experiences as well as to raise awareness about mental health stigma. Check it out on Spotify here.

The Pan-Canadian School Wellness Opinion Survey: A survey for post-secondary students has just been released to gather information on mental health resource accessibility for students across Canada. The data collected will guide initiatives through roundtable discussions, resource development, and other council-wide projects. If you are a post-secondary student, fill out the survey here.

Coming soon: Stay tuned as the NYAC team is preparing events for Pride Month, a student mental health services round-table discussion, and an emotional-wellness resource book. To stay updated on the latest work of the NYAC, sign-up for the NYAC monthly newsletter.
MDSC was incorporated in 2001 and has evolved to become one of Canada’s best-connected mental health NGOs with a demonstrated track record for forging and maintaining meaningful and sustained partnerships with the public, private and non-profit sectors throughout Canada. With the overall objective of improving access to treatment, informing research, and shaping program development and government policies with the goal of improving the quality of life for people affected by mood disorders.

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