Key to suicide prevention is public, affordable mental health services

"We are proud to take part in World Suicide Prevention Day to promote well-being and positive mental health. Today provides us with an opportunity to bring mental health issues out of the shadows so people can find the support they need." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (10 Sept. 2020) — Today marks World Suicide Prevention Day. It's a day specifically designed to promote understanding more about suicide and how it impacts family and friends and our communities. On this date every year, people in over 50 countries connect to continue Working Together to Prevent Suicide. 

COVID-19 has increased need to mental health services

During this pandemic, we've seen an increase in the number of people concerned about their mental health. In June 2020, an IPSOS poll found that 66 per cent of women and 51 per cent of men claim their mental health has been negatively affected by COVID-19. The poll also indicted that only 1 in 5 people experiencing high stress sought help. In a different survey conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association, research found a pronounced rise in mental health concerns and suicidal thoughts, especially among subgroups that include parents, people with existing mental illness, Indigenous people and those with a disability.

There are a number of barriers that prevent people from asking for help: stigma, lack of confidence in the system, and cost but for people who do seek help, they find few resources, long waiting lists or little follow up. 

The federal government must develop a mental health strategy

Mental health was a major issue before COVID-19 struck. In 2019, Members of Parliament adopted NDP MP Charlie Angus' motion to create a national suicide prevention strategy but there is no formal strategy yet. Since the start of the pandemic, federal and provincial governments have provided online assistance for people who have concerns about their mental health.

"What people really need is publicly available, affordable mental health services, no matter where they live. This is what's necessary to reduce and prevent suicides," said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). 

Talking about suicide

The National Union has a long history of advocating for improved mental health services across the country and especially for those who have experienced trauma, violence, and stress in the workplace. As the pandemic carries on, NUPGE will continue to advocate for increased services in the workplace and in every community in Canada. 

"We are proud to take part in World Suicide Prevention Day to promote well-being and positive mental health. Today provides us with an opportunity to bring mental health issues out of the shadows so people can find the support they need," said Brown. 

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE