WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 24, 2012) - Mr. Chris Alexander, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, today participated in the Tri-National Military Mental Health Symposium at the Embassy of Canada in Washington.
The forum was hosted by the True Patriot Love Foundation and gathered representatives and distinguished guests from academia, charities, government agencies, and industry in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"Our Government is committed to supporting our men and women in uniform. The health needs, including the mental health needs, of military personnel are the Minister of National Defence's top priority," said Mr. Alexander, who addressed the symposium. "However, we must acknowledge that we cannot do it alone. We must work with our allies and our civilian partners to ensure we continue to provide our ill injured with the care and support they need. We have a collective responsibility as a society to provide the best support available to those defending our country."
Together, these organizations discussed the impact of recent operational deployments on the mental health of service personnel and their families. As well, there was an open dialogue on both clinical and non-clinical approaches to this issue and the challenges that remain. These organizations also established how the private, charitable and public sectors can improve synergy and efficiency in order to work together to help injured personnel and their families establish and sustain fulfillment in all aspects of their lives.
"The True Patriot Love Foundation has shown extraordinary leadership by organizing this symposium in Washington. This event reinforces the fact that collaboration and cooperation are key to tackling and treating mental health injuries. These issues transcend organizational boundaries and territorial borders," said the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk. "While we are making progress in breaking down 'old school' barriers to the identification and treatment of mental health issues, we still have much work to do to overcome the stigma and accelerate treatment. We will continue to work with our allies, partners and professional medical organizations to ensure those who need help, get it. We owe those who have sacrificed so much, the very best support we are able to provide."
On September 12, 2012, Minister MacKay reallocated an additional $11.4 million, for a yearly total of $50 million, to enhance the Canadian Forces (CF)'s already robust mental health programs and ensure that military personnel continue to receive the highest standard of healthcare possible, wherever and whenever they serve.
From 2003 to 2009, $98 million was committed under the Mental Health Initiative to support the hiring of up to 218 additional mental health practitioners to raise the total of mental health professionals to 447. The government continues to work toward that goal and currently, mental health programs are delivered by approximately 378 military and civilian mental health providers as well as additional support staff.
"A review of wait times for all clinics is currently underway and an aggressive plan is being developed to improve our systems and actively recruit and retain high-quality mental healthcare providers across Canada," said Surgeon General for the Canadian Forces, Brigadier-General Jean-Robert Bernier, who presented to the assembled group. "Mental healthcare providers interested in becoming part of the CF's mental health team are encouraged to contact the CF for more information."
Notes to editor / news director: For more information on mental health in the CF, please see the backgrounder on Mental Health Services in the CF: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?id=4374
Contact information: For more information on this announcement, please contact the National Defence Media Liaison Office at 1-866-377-0811.