Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 2-8

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness. The week was established by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and is now coordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) in cooperation with all its member organizations and many other supporters across Canada. (CAMIMH)

World Mental Health Day, October 10

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries. This day, each October, thousands of supporters come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ lives worldwide. (Wikipedia)


Prevalence and Impact —

  • In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness.
  • By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have – or have had – a mental illness.
  • People with mental illness and substance use disorders are more likely to die prematurely than the general population.
    • Mental illness can cut 10 to 20 years from a person’s life expectancy.
  • The annual economic cost of mental illness in Canada is estimated at over $50 billion per year. This includes health care costs, lost productivity, and reductions in health-related quality of life.
  • The cost of a workplace disability leave for a mental illness is about double the cost of a leave due to a physical illness.

Stigma —

  • In a 2019 survey of working Canadians:
    • 75% of respondents said they would be reluctant – or would refuse – to disclose a mental illness to an employer or co-worker.
    • Respondents were nearly 3 times less likely to want to disclose a mental illness like depression than a physical one like cancer.

Suicide —

  • About 4,000 Canadians per year die by suicide – an average of almost 11 suicides a day.
  • More than 75% of suicides involve men, but women attempt suicide 3 to 4 times more often.
  • More than half of suicides involve people aged 45 or older.
  • In 2018, suicide was the leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 14.

Sources: For more statistics and links to the source studies, please click here. 



Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health


Canadian Mental Health Association


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)


Mental Health Commission of Canada