The Growing Importance of Mental Health Workers in Canada

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Mental health has become a major topic of study in Canada. This is mainly because mental illness and addiction diagnoses are becoming more widespread, as more mental health research is carried out. In fact, studies have actually shown that mental illness is now one of the country’s leading causes of disability. In Ontario alone, the burden of mental illness and addiction is 1.5 times higher than that of all cancers, and 7 times higher than the affliction of all infectious diseases. While the statistics surrounding mental illness and addiction are quite high and perhaps surprising to some, what is very troubling is the fact that access to support, care and treatment for those suffering from mental illness is still incredibly limited when compared to the demand.

Whether you plan to enroll in a mental health worker program, take a psychiatric nursing course, or perhaps even become a healthcare assistant, you will definitely learn all about the growing demand for professionals with the knowledge and skills to treat mental illness in Canada. Read on for more information on those who are affected by mental illness and addiction, and how you might be able to help support these individuals once you begin your career.

Mental Illness Appears During Childhood

Mental illness will often make its first appearance during childhood. In fact, studies have indicated that 70 per cent of all mental health problems actually begin during a person’s childhood or throughout their adolescent years. Industry professionals know that those who experience mental health problems during their early years are more likely to suffer from a mental illness throughout adolescence and adulthood. Oftentimes, people forget that substance addiction is also a mental disorder, and mental illnesses and addiction can co-occur very frequently. Any mental health and addictions worker knows that someone who is suffering from a mental illness is much more likely to also develop a substance abuse problem.

Breaking the Stigma

There is a social stigma attached to both mental illness and substance addiction. Since people often fear what they don’t understand, it’s not surprising that research has shown that 64 per cent of Ontario working professionals would be concerned about work if one of their colleagues had a mental illness. Nor is it surprising that only a mere 50 per cent of Canadians would tell their friends and co-workers about their struggles with a mental illness, whereas 72 per cent would be willing to talk about a cancer diagnosis. The stigma surrounding mental disorders is what forces individuals who are living with mental illness or addiction to stay quiet and avoid getting professional help. It’s important that those struggling with such disorders seek the help they need and avoid dealing with their condition by themselves.

How Trained Mental Health Workers Can Help

Adolescents and young adults are more likely to develop a mental illness or an addiction between the ages of 15 and 24, and experts know that it is important for them to have the daily support they need available to them. Community mental health workers are crucial because they provide assistance and support to individuals living with mental disorders, and they also help establish stable and secure living situations while providing a much needed positive outlook. Qualified mental health professionals work with individuals with mental illnesses to discuss, determine and assess problems and create action plans that will ensure they lead a fulfilling and healthy life.

What are some ways that you think you can make a difference as a mental health worker?

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