Good health is fundamental to the effectiveness of any military force, but only recently has it been truly recognized that mental health is equally or, in some respects, more important than physical health. Mental health also contributes to enjoyment of life and the ability to achieve academic and occupational goals.  It helps build and maintain healthy relationships and contributes to good physical health. Good mental health reduces stress, prevents mental health problems and illnesses, and fosters recovery.

As a subset of Canadian society, we face the same risks of developing mental illness as do other Canadians.  We differ in that we do not enrol persons with serious pre-existing risk of mental illness, but also in that we are exposed to the unique and sometimes extreme stresses of military service and operations. Our system must be comprehensive enough to meet the larger demand of mental health unrelated to operations, while concurrently addressing the needs of those injured as a result of operations.

Although we must strive to keep improving, the RX2000 project and developments over the past decade have given CAF members the most comprehensive mental health services in Canada. The CAF system’s multidisciplinary approach and integration with primary care work extremely well and have been noted by other health authorities as a model to emulate.  Our R2MR program is designed to improve mental health and provide tools for dealing with stressors encountered at home and during deployed operations.  As this knowledge continues to be shared with CAF members over their career cycle, we expect continued improvement in mental health literacy, decreased stigma and increased resilience.

The CAF environment and culture present unique opportunities to protect mental health as a shared responsibility between CAF members, the chain of command and health services. We face, however, challenges in meeting the needs of Reservists, our families, and occupations with special circumstances and needs, including health occupations. Ill health among CF H Svcs Gp personnel will degrade our ability to support our colleagues in other arms of the CAF.

Although we are well resourced to implement our priorities over the next five years, sustained effort will be required to translate them into practical action and effects in support of the CAF. Our success depends not only on the quality of our services and system, but equally on establishing the trust and confidence necessary for CAF members to present for, and to remain engaged in, mental health care.

We have the capacity and resources to make a great system even better. This strategy sets the foundation for a continued evolution of our system to remain at the leading edge of mental health knowledge and services in order to best meet the needs of CAF members today and in the future.

(parvis e glandibus quercus)

Date modified: