Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Chief of the Defence Staff's Mental Health Campaign

Mental health conditions and Operational Stress Injuries are not new, but are often misunderstood. In fact, the majority of those who could benefit from help do not even know they need it. This is why I have decided to make this issue a top priority of mine and to encourage you to recognise these as legitimate and serious conditions that need treatment and support.

As the CDS I ask all CF personnel to be strong, capable and mission oriented. We all want to be at our best. Mental Health problems and Operational Stress Injuries can significantly impact our ability to be at the top of our game and we in the Canadian Forces are not the only ones impacted by these realities. In fact, one in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime. These conditions are real and in some cases as life threatening as physical illnesses or injuries. They affect the individual, the unit, operational effectiveness, along with family and friends. We all have the responsibility to take these injuries seriously. They require the same care, attention, and support as any other type of injury.

We know that clinical and peer based interventions are effective and that the earlier they occur the better the chances are for recovery. Those who receive the support of unit co- workers and leaders have the greatest chance of returning to duty.

Therefore, I expect leaders at all levels to create a command climate that allows those who need help to get it. I also expect all CF personnel to foster a social climate of understanding, acceptance and support. Don’t under estimate the impact you can have on someone affected by mental health difficulties.

Traditionally, families have been the first to notice the early signs of mental health difficulties and to help our men and women cope. Now that we realise that a supportive work environment can make a big difference let’s make sure we take action.

As the Chief of the Defence Staff, I am privileged to lead such dedicated and hard working sailors, soldiers, air men and air women and special forces. You, the men and women of the CF, are the most valuable asset we have.

Take care of yourselves!

Take care of one another!Be the difference!

General Walt Natynczyk

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