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The media is the message: The role of journalism in mental health advocacy

Last week, Cliff Lonsdale of the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma introduced Mindset, a toolkit for journalists on reporting on mental health.

It was a good step forward in improving our collective understanding of mental illness, changing attitudes and eliminating the stigma and discrimination that prevent people from seeking the help they need.

The toolkit addresses the use of language, the engagement of people with lived experience, the complexities of mental disorders and the intersection of mental illness and the criminal justice system.

In today’s 24/7 news cycle it’s far too tempting to look for the easy way out, to write the quick story and to promote the sensationalized headline to captivate audiences. This poses a dilemma for a complex health issue.

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Innovation and mental health: What can social entrepreneurs teach us?

By Dr. Sean Kidd, Head of the Psychology Service of the CAMH Schizophrenia Program, Independent Clinician Scientist, and Assistant Professor with the McMaster and University of Toronto Departments of Psychiatry

Accessing mental health treatments and professionals is a pervasive problem in low income countries.

Along with the general lack of resources (such as one psychiatrist per million people), it is regularly found that uniform, top-down health interventions fail.

However, in the very settings where harsh political, social, and economic conditions would seem to represent a total impasse, compelling local examples of social innovation are coming to life.

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Trauma on the job: No shame in asking for help

by Donna Ferguson, Psychologist with the WSIB Psychological Trauma Program

Military suicides and stories of police or paramedics suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have increasingly become front-page news.

But behind the headlines, the suffering of those who come home from war zones or have treated a young child injured in a car accident only to have them die, is seen as taboo.

Despite their tough professional exteriors, these individuals carry scars which cannot be seen.

While the awareness of PTSD has increased, seeking treatment is not often an easy path for those who wrestle with recurring nightmares, avoidance and overall anxiety as a result of the trauma they faced on the job.

And one of the greatest barriers to treatment is shame.

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The evidence for CAMH going tobacco free

Evidence informs much of what we do in health care, and that is true not just for clinical interventions, but also for decisions like the implementation of a new organizational policy.

Understanding the evidence base for these types of initiatives can be particularly important when the issue is a challenging one that affects our staff, our clients, and our community.

CAMH’s decision to become a tobacco-free hospital is supported by research that speaks specifically to the issues involved in such a complex decision, and is particularly supported by new evidence that has come to light in the last five or six years. Understanding the link between evidence and policy is a key element to the success of our tobacco-free initiative, so we are committed to clear communication on the subject.

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Attempted suicide: Should police ever share this personal health information?

Remember Ellen Richardson’s story? She’s a Canadian citizen who was denied entry into the United States because of her history of mental illness.

When Ms. Richardson shared her story with the media, others came forward with experiences of discrimination based on their medical histories.  The incidents highlight the pervasive prejudice faced by people with mental illness every day.

How are U.S. border guards getting access to personal health information in the first place? This question was the focus of the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s (IPC) report, Crossing the Line: The Indiscriminate Disclosure of Attempted Suicide Information to U.S. Border Officials via CPIC, that was released today.

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