Veterans Week 1

Investing in mental health of Canadian veterans

eAwaz Health

Ottawa – As Veterans’ Week draws to a close, we reflect on the dedication, strength and courage of our Veterans, military, and public safety personnel, who risk their lives and sacrifice so much to keep Canadians safe.

People in Canada from all walks of life have served in various international conflicts and wars. Earlier this week, we marked Indigenous Veterans Day, to honour Indigenous People who have bravely served in Canadian military efforts around the world.

Canadian Armed Forces members have also served our country in domestic operations, from assisting with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to responding to natural disasters such as wildfires, ice storms, and floods.

These invaluable contributions have not been without adversity. People working in the military and in public safety roles experience unique stressors in the line of duty that can significantly impact their mental health and well-being. About one-fifth of Veterans will experience a diagnosed mental health disorder in their life-time, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders.

To support the heroes that serve us, our government funds research projects through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to help expand our understanding of the specific mental health challenges faced by Veterans and military personnel. CIHR’s Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction has also funded research projects examining the benefits and barriers to care and digital health for military, Veterans and other public safety personnel.

Veterans and their families have access to the Veterans Affairs Canada Assistance Service (1-800-268-7708 or TDD 1-800-567-5803, 24/7 toll-free help line). All Canadians, including Canadians abroad, can also reach out to Wellness Together Canada (WTC) for free, 24/7, and confidential mental health and substance use support.

Indigenous Peoples in need of support can contact the Hope for Wellness Help Line by calling 1-855-242-3310. Telephone and online counselling are available in English and French. On request, telephone counselling is also available in Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibway.

Lastly, Talk Suicide Canada offers free and confidential bilingual crisis support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residents across Canada can call 1-833-456-4566, or text 45645 in the evenings. Quebec residents can call 1-866-277-3553 or visit suicide.ca for support by text and online chat in French.

To all those who have served, and continue to serve Canada both home and abroad – thank you. We are forever in your debt. – Carolyn Bennett, PC, MP