Supporting positive mental health

Positive mental health is the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.
Yet, differences in economic circumstances, education, living conditions and the physical environment can prevent a proportion of our population from achieving optimal mental health and well-being. 
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20% of the population will experience a mental disorder at some time in their lives.
This means that every family in Canada will in some way be affected.
The good news is that people with mental illness can and do get better and the vast majority recover.
May 7th to 13th was Mental Health Week this year and the Canadian Mental Health Commission, which was created by the Harper government in 2006, released its first Mental Health Strategy for Canada on May 8th.  Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq has welcomed the report and confirms that mental health remains a priority for our government.  Anyone wishing to read the report can go to www.mentalhealthcommission.ca.
As a former city councillor, as a Member of Parliament and as a member of our community I want to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the many people, both professionals and volunteers, who are dedicated to helping our community achieve better mental health for all. 
It isn’t easy and it isn’t always successful.  Mental health issues are some of the most difficult we deal with in our community and are often linked with equally challenging issues including poverty, homelessness, and addiction problems.
As the seminal 2006 Senate report “Out of the Shadows At Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada” said, “We know how difficult it will be to improve the lives of people living with mental illness.  We know it will be tougher still to change deep-seated public attitudes and reduce the stigma and discrimination they face. To put each of them on the road to recovery will be an extraordinary challenge. Yet we are optimistic that the time has come when meaningful change can, and will, be made. From coast to coast we have met politicians, government officials, mental health service providers and professionals, and many, many ordinary Canadians, who are willing to help make change a reality, to help bring people living with mental illness into the mainstream of Canadian society.”
When I look at the long list of local organizations working to provide support to those in need, I know our community is on the right track.  We have made progress because of the efforts of organizations that include: our local Canadian Mental Health Association branch, our help and crisis lines, our shelters, food bank and drop in centres, our youth and family organizations like the Crossroads Treatment Centre, CATCH and ARC,  various churches and street ministries, victims services, the John Howard Society, the Elizabeth Fry Society, Brain Trust Canada and of course our first responders including local police, paramedics, hospital staff and doctors. 
These organizations and others right across the country are part of a vast system of support that include municipal, regional, provincial and national government programs which effectively address the mental health of Canadians. 
On an individual basis we can support our local organizations and we can take care of those around us including our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours.  Sometimes the smallest gesture of kindness or reaching out and sharing our own personal stories can make a difference to those who don’t believe things can get better.  They can - and with our continued support - they will.
The key to continued success is to see others and their stories as our own - our families, our society, and our responsibility.  If we do, we have taken a major step toward a healthier society by accepting that we are all part of the solution.
Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country.  Should you wish to discuss any matter related to the federal government, please do not hesitate to contact him at [email protected] or at 250 470-5075.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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