Every time I go to the Out of This World Café, I get more than a good cup of coffee, I get to visit what feels like the heart of the CAMH campus. It’s buzzing with staff, patients and people from the neighbourhood. The last time I was there, Cathy was in the thick of it all. As I sat and waited for my meeting to start, I kept thinking it was great to see her in action. She’s confident, chats with customers and is always smiling — thriving, really.
Like Cathy, I believe that workplaces like Out of This World are vital. They provide safe spaces where people can be themselves, feel accepted and be understood. Cathy says her job is a lifeline. One thing I imagine for our city is more organizations working together to create lifelines like this one.
Last week was Mental Illness Awareness Week. Our friends at CAMH launched a campaign to remind us that even though lots of people struggle with poor mental health, we tend to minimize its impact. It was an important reminder to be more mindful, accepting and empathetic.
The thing is, everyone’s life is touched by mental illness in some way, including mine. I have family members and friends who, like Cathy, suffer from depression. Not only does it affect their ability to live their lives, it touches everyone around them.
The causes of mental illness have deep roots. They’re complex and often connected to things like inadequate income, education and social supports. That’s why a lot of United Way’s work involves trying to improve those conditions. As Saleem reminded us, there is so much more to well-being than having a healthy body. And healthy people make communities around them stronger.
Over the next few weeks, this blog will focus on how we can build strong communities and make people across Toronto healthier. We’re going to start by talking about mental health services.
I’d like to invite you to reflect on your experience with mental illness and share with us. How has mental illness touched your life?