Tag Archives: canadian mental health association

why being canadian makes us sick

today was the annual general meeting of the canadian mental health association. our speaker was dr. paul kershaw.  from his intro:

kershaw is an academic, public speaker and media contributor. he is one of canada’s leading thinkers about care-giving and family policy, receiving two national prizes from the canadian political science association for his research.

dubbed by some an ‘evangelist professor’, kershaw uses research to be a cheer-leader and critic of canadians with the intention of inspiring substantial policy change across the country. to this end, kershaw devotes time to liaise with leaders in government, the business community, the not-for-profit sector, and the academy.

kershaw does not shy away from tough issues. on radio he has been labeled a “boomer-hater” because he speaks about intergenerational inequities between baby boomers and the generations that follow. as a proud feminist, he chides the personal and policy decisions by which many men evade their fair share of care-giving work, and fail to enjoy a fair share of the joys that come with caring. among the general public, he argues that ‘being canadian’ is making us sick, because the medical system in which we take national pride shows more of a disease fetish than an aspiration to promote health. at the university of british columbia, in the college for interdisciplinary studies, kershaw is the human early learning partnership (HELP) scholar of social care, citizenship and the determinants of health.

here are my notes from his talk:

how many children come to school ready to learn? 70%. that sounds like a good number. but what if you turn it around?

30% of children come to our schools vulnerable (don’t meet age appropriate benchmarks – e.g. not fully developed re fine and gross motor skills, playing with peers, following simple instructions, etc.)

why should that worry us?

we are most sensitive to our environments in the early years. what happens in the early years sets the tone for the rest of the life.

statistically speaking, those who are vulnerable in kindergarten tend to have more problems with teenage diabetes, mental health, coronary heart disease, elevated blood pressure, premature aging, etc.

what are the fundamental failings in canada when it comes to looking after our youngest citizens?

poverty.

poverty 1: families are strapped for time – “i’ll compromise my time in the domestic area” work-life conflict – BC has the highest rate of work life tension
poverty 2 – service poverty (lack of social services)
poverty 3 – income poverty – we have the highest rates of poverty among children

5 reasons why we fail our next generations

1 – our perceptions don’t reflect reality
2 – lack of gender equality
3 – we have other policy priorities
4 – we have a disease fetish
5 – we are a boomer centric society

1 – misperceptions

  • canadian perceptions of reality are not reflective of actual reality
  • “do you knw what share of kids reach our school system vulnerable?” 82% of BCers underestimate how vulnerable we are
  • 86% thought we’re more generous to address these problems than we are

2 – lack of gender equality

  • we are at the bottom of OECD countries re family policy and gender equality
  • gender equality and family policy go together
  • we used to be #13, now #30
  • in 2001 we had a ministry for women’s quality, now we have no ministerial representation whatsoever
  • quebec is the only place with a good family policy because they want to breed more quebecois

3 – we have other priorities

  • 45% of our budget allocated to things medical
  • social service spending has contracted
  • health care is consuming an ever growing share of the budget, mostly because the budget overall has shrunk
  • social service spending used to be 18%, then 15% just before recession, now even less – 500 dollar less per person now

4 – we have a disease fetish

  • a mismatch between how we devote our public spending and how we spend on children
  • spending increases as we get older despite the fact that it would have the most impact if it was spent on children
  • this reflects that when someone gets sick we want to be there
  • we are lousy at prevention
  • but what do we owe ourselves in this society?
  • another example: we spend millions to save the lives of preterm babies but spend nothing on things like food for 5-year-olds
  • do we want to be dominated by disease or by health?

5 – we are baby boomer centric

  • this creates intergenerational tensions
  • politicians are baby boomers, they want to spend money on what concerns their age group
  • we can tackle children’s problems in a 5-year period (different from, say, environment, which takes much longer)
  • but baby boomers are aging so that’s what they pay attention to
  • we are also worried about pensions. but we are doing well with pensions and we’re not ranking well at all when it comes to children.

what do we need to do?

  • we need to think about health promotion differently. we need to address time, service and income poverty. improve parental leave system. why 40-45 hours a week for both parents? typical canadian works 300 more hours than the typical dutch person; netherlands and scandinavians do much more for children
  • need to increase welfare by 50%, and need to think about tax policies for the working poor
  • service poverty – need access to monthly parenting support and health check in. too spotty right now.
  • after kids are 18 months, needearly learning and care services. THAT is a major health promotion policy.

this is not inexpensive, a good 3 billion dollars a year. where to find the money?

1 – we HAVE found an extra bunch of money before, for increased health services
2 – if you’re patient, prevention early on has HUGE economic payback once they hit the labour market. we can predict the quality of our labour supply. with increased child health, we can increase economic growth by 25% – enough to pay down entire debt before these kids reach retirement

depression screening on blue monday, january 18

the CMHA (vancouver-burnaby branch) will be holding a depression and anxiety screening the evening of monday, january 18th 2010, which they call ‘blue monday.’ blue monday is traditionally the third monday in january, a date chosen because it occurs after the holidays but when the days are still dark and dreary, new year’s resolutions may have already been abandoned, post-holiday bills are coming in, and it will be a few more months until another holiday occurs. as a result, people may be feeling sad and overwhelmed. blue monday is therefore an excellent opportunity to take stock of one’s mental health, to acknowledge when things are tough, and take steps to improve it.

participants fill out a depression or anxiety questionnaire, which is then scored anonymously by volunteers. the participant then discusses the results with a clinician, who will make suggestions based on the results. this is not meant to be a counselling session, but an opportunity to have participants think about their mental health, and see their own medical doctor if there is reason to believe s/he should.

the blue monday depression and anxiety screening will take place between 5 and 8 p.m. on january 18th, 2010. space is limited, so interested individuals are asked to register in advance by calling 604-872-4902 or contacting info.vb@cmha.bc.ca.

the CMHA will also have information and resources on mental wellness, and will be showing a series of films by award-winning film-maker, gary ledbetter.

blogathon: walking into the CMHA – a surprise

canadian mental health association

this is a guest post by the CMHA vancouver-burnaby’s new executive director, rebecca shields.

it is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, email me or use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. you should be able to get there by clicking the link; if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps.

thank you for visiting, reading and, if you can, donating!

there are conceptions, pre-conceptions and then, there are total surprises.

last week i started my new position as executive director of the canadian mental health association-vancouver burnaby branch. i heard about the excellent programs, the innovative services, the success stories and the well-merited reputation of the agency. going in, i looked forward to working with a team of dedicated professionals, passionate volunteers and committed board members.

given the amount of new and innovative programming that are being recognized both here in our community as well as internationally, my pre-conception was that there were tons of staff members. which led to the total surprise: CMHA/VB manages a work load of one hundred with 1/3 of the people. wow.

there is an energy and passion here. there is a dynamism, a creative force all founded in a core belief in the power of people. honestly, it does not flood you as you walk in the door. there is no hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant or news control room. it is quiet movement that carries everyone who connects.

i am guessing that this is one of the keys to CMHA/VB’s success. that everyone who participates, volunteers or joins our professional team finds themselves empowered, encouraged, allowed, and ultimately appreciated for their work be it personal or public.

this is the best surprise of all.

blogathon poem: repair work

repair work
by marge johnson

does it matter anymore
why i broke down?

can you give me
a guarantee
as to how long
i will be able
to continue
once you try to
repair me?

do you know
how long i can go this time
before you once again
consider me unsafe
and take me away?

this poem was donated by marge johnson. it is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. you should be able to get there by clicking the link;if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser.   it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps. thank you!

blogathon: … and we’re off!

so here we are.  it’s 4:38 and my first entry for today needs to posted by 5:00 am.  it just started to dawn outside – canadian mental health associationor what i think is “started”, i never know how to measure that.  when i got up 10 minutes ago, the sky wasn’t dark anymore but there was no hint of sun yet.  now it has a yellowish-orange-ish tint.

i’m excited about this and not a bit queasy, like i was some times during the last few days (“what have you gotten yourself INTO, isabella?!?”).  right now all i’m thinking about how i’m connected to all these other bloggers from the vancouver blogathon and the blog-a-day, how this is going to be an experience of a lifetime, and how this is going to get me feel even stronger about the organization i’m sponsoring, the canadian mental health organization in the vancouver/burnaby region.

their mission is to

promote mental wellness and increase understanding of mental health issues through innovative and collaborative approaches in the areas of public education, accessible services and personal empowerment.

okay!  i’m prepared!  i have a huge stack of books here, have lots of fruit and protein snacks (am looking forward to  that hoummus), i DID prepare a few posts beforehand but certainly not 48, i made sure not to have any sugar, alcohol or caffeine in the last few days and won’t have any in the next 24 hours (that’ll just crash me.  i’ll make sure to have little bouts of meditation and “state changes” (i’ll tell you about that later) – so i’m ready!

let’s roll!

this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, email me or use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. you should be able to get there by clicking the link; if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps.

thank you for visiting, reading and, if you can, donating!

last minute invitation to the blogathon

isabella mori on blogathonthe serious countdown to the blogathon has started. it’s all i can think of (i didn’t even write a frozen pea post today!)

as of this writing, it’s 10 hours until i post my first entry, at 5 am tomorrow morning. then 24 hours of blogging, posting an article every 30 minutes. yikes! i wonder whether towards the end it will degenerate into incomprehensible blather, spiked with the most creative typos??? well, we’ll see. it’s all for a good cause. i even made a little badge! (click on it and you can donate to the canadian mental health association).

i’ve already gone crazy on facebook and other places, inviting people to stop by tomorrow, july 26. here’s my last invitation frenzy, to bloggers who i’ve met here in the last little while. please visit, read, comment, link, donate! you can even send me a guest post …

oh, and if you don’t find yourself here on this list, it’s not that i didn’t think of you, it’s just that my hand gave out.  if you’re a friend and would like to be included, send me your link in <a href=> form.

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