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Province launches campaign to fight mental health stigma

The province is launching a campaign aimed at fighting stigmas around mental health and addictions.
Two men hugging (Sarah Mason - DigitalVision - Getty Images)
Two people hugging

The province is launching a campaign aimed at fighting stigmas around mental health and addictions. The campaign features people from Saskatchewan who have experienced mental illness and addiction, or who have counselled people struggling with those experiences.

Everett Hindley, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said, “This campaign is part of our budget commitment to increase awareness and reduce stigma around mental health and addictions issues in Saskatchewan, and to promote where people can access help.”

The public awareness campaign includes television, radio, billboard, cinema, transit buses, and social media. Cree- and Dene-speaking people will be reached through translation into those languages.

Candice Ebert, a senior addictions counsellor at the Regina Drug Treatment Court, said “A single moment of being kind, and giving your time and being compassionate, can be a life-or-death situation.” Ebert said that everyone needs to have more empathy, because it could make the difference for another person.

The province has also started a mental wellness campaign through social media platforms. The mental wellness campaign features well-known names from Saskatchewan who share healthy coping tips, and includes Moose Jaw comedy duo Leroy and Leroy, actor Kim Coates, and singer/rapper Joey Stylez. The campaigns will run concurrently through March 31.

“It’s important to break down the stigma, because we are not that label. We are so much more, we are people,” said Tommy LaPlante, an addictions counsellor with lived experience who is featured in the stigma-fighting campaign. “If we can get rid of the labels, and get to know and love people, they’ll feel supported. The important thing to know is there is help, and there is hope.”

There is Help, There is Hope is the theme of the campaign. “The people featured in this campaign offer such powerful messages of hope and recovery. I thank them for sharing their stories and inspiring others to reach out to available resources,” Hindley said.

The stigma of mental health and addictions, according to psychiatry.org, has several different aspects. There is public stigma, self-stigma, and institutional stigma. Public stigma includes deeply-rooted negative or discriminatory attitudes, such as that people who struggle with mental health and/or addictions are violent or weak or flawed in some deep way. Self-stigma is when those people internalize those attitudes, causing them to hide their difficulties, isolate themselves, or believe they are beyond help.

Institutional stigma is when such attitudes either intentionally or unintentionally become entrenched in governments or institutions. For example, emergency rooms might treat a patient with a substance use disorder as less of a priority than someone with a more socially accepted illness.

To learn more about available help, supports, and ways to reduce stigma, visit Saskatchewan.ca/mental-health-awareness.