Mental Health: Is the Crisis Real?

The Centre for Addictions and Mental Health Canada states[1]: the world is in the grips of a mental health crisis, also noting however, that knowing the facts is the first step on the way to creating new hope.

Let’s talk about it!

First, some statistics[1]:

  • 75% of children with mental disorders do not have access to specialized treatment services;
  • Youth aged 15 – 24 are highly vulnerable;
  • In a 2019 survey of working Canadians[1], 75% of respondents said they would be reluctant – or would refuse – to disclose a mental illness to an employer or co-worker. The top reasons for this reluctance were: the belief that there is stigma around mental illness, not wanting to be treated differently or judged, and being afraid of negative consequences, such as losing one’s job.

One of the most interesting facts about these last few statements, is that, 76% of respondents to the same survey stated that they themselves would be completely comfortable with and supportive of a colleague with a mental illness.

Here-in Lies the Hope!

With just a wee bit of awareness around some of the aforementioned facts, we can learn to shift our thinking, from thoughts focused on problems, to being more focused on problem solving. As humans, we are excellent navigators of problems and adept at solving them when we have the tools to do so. Here are a few tools to shift your focus away from the crisis and into your power.

Change Directions Change Lives

Change Directions Change Lives was the slogan for one of the first collective mental health campaigns[1] in Canada, in 2012; and since that time, despite a global pandemic, not much has changed. Some statistics for mental health have risen, some fallen, and the rollercoaster of risk versus resilience factors continues. The fact remains, if we succumb to overwhelm at the thought of crisis, we can remain stuck, so let’s change directions.

There are four key factors to our overall health that shake out, in this order, no matter the study or year; they are, 1) relationships, 2) environment, 3) resources, and 4) biology.

The good news about these factors is that we have a lot of control over a couple of them. Here are some things everyone can do in the wake of the mental health crisis to make a big difference for the mental health of everyone in our community!

  • Share your struggles: being open about challenges decreases stigma.
  • Communicate your openness to diversity, difference, and need: many mental health issues stem from being ‘othered’ or feeling isolated and alone.
  • Help to normalize that we ALL have mental health: we can have a mental illness diagnosis, or not, however, mental wellness is not contingent on this: i.e., just because I have anxiety, doesn’t mean I am ill. There is much I can do to maintain wellness despite a diagnosis. 
  • Use therapeutic strategies at home, in schools, at work, and in the community: this is a key piece, as we can get caught in the myth that therapy only happens in the therapist’s office. Therapeutic connections can happen in brief moments all throughout the day. Renowned trauma expert, Dr. Bruce Perry reminds us that these interactions are called ‘therapeutic dosing’[1] and they happen all day long if we make space for them.
    • Smile at people;
    • Be patient and kind;
    • Practice self-care, so you are strong for your people;
    • Name and regulate your big emotions (calm the nervous-system) and model and teach this to kids;
    • Be ok with mistakes and imperfections – failure, problems, adversity – can teach and strengthen us.

To learn more daily, you can follow Dr. Judy on Instagram @drjudyjaunzemsfernuk.

Resources Informing this Blog are Listed Below:


[1] Winfrey, O., & Perry, B. (2021). What happened to you?: Conversations on trauma, resilience, and healing.

[1] Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2012). Changing directions, changing lives: The mental health strategy for Canada.

[1] Ipsos (2019). Mental illnesses increasingly recognized as disability, but stigma persists. Retrieved from


You may also like...