Facebook discussion on mental illness garners 7700 viewers


Mental illness affects many Defence Team members – an often overlooked fact as mental health conditions are sometimes concealed in the workplace.

To help combat this issue, Colonel Rakesh Jetly, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Surgeon General’s senior psychiatrist and mental health advisor, recently discussed Mental Illness in the Workplace to live and social media audiences.

Despite efforts to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness, some Defence Team members remain reluctant to seek treatment. Studies show that one in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime, but only one in seven will reach out to access health services. From an organizational perspective, taking proactive steps to help staff deal with mental health is not only a moral obligation, but also a practical one that will enhance productivity. The World Health Organization has found that more working days are lost due to mental disorders than any physical condition.

“We need to put the right programs and services in place to best support Defence Team members,” said Col Jetly. “It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.”

Many people who suffer from mental illness live with the false belief that they will never be as productive as their counterparts. To help combat this, the CAF has moved from the traditional model for mental health to a Mental Health Continuum Model that anyone can refer to on a daily basis.

“The point is not to confuse competence and capability with depression. These things are not mutually exclusive. We have to get away from thinking that mentally ill people are not competent,” stated Col Jetly.

Military and civilian members of the Defence Team are the department’s most important asset. These are the people who support domestic and international operations to help protect Canadians, procure new tanks, develop next generation technology, and provide critical human resources and financial services.

Col Jetly’s discussion marked Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month and was attended by more than 50 people at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, and viewed by more than 7700 on Facebook.

“Mental illness does not define a person,” posted one Facebook user. “I am so proud that these conversations are occurring. There is hope.”


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