Statement by General Lawson on Mental Health in the Canadian Armed Forces

Video / December 4, 2013

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Ladies and Gentlemen, any, each, and every suicide is a tragedy, and the loss of any soldier is painful and heartbreaking to our men, women and families. Although suicide is an international public health concern, for an organization built on leadership, built on camaraderie, and built on strength, it hits us especially hard. We have an expert health care system to support us, but in order for us to help each other, it’s essential that all military personnel, like all Canadians, recognize mental health issues as they develop.

As you’re already aware, we each have a role to serve in identifying and assisting those affected by mental health concerns. Don’t underestimate the direct, positive impact you can have as a leader, as a friend, or as a subordinate. We can all note changes in behaviour, we can all listen to each other, and we can all aid in seeking help.

For those of you currently combating mental illness, don’t avoid or delay accessing support services and treatment. If you have thoughts of suicide, help is immediately available by calling 911. Expert help is also available at your base and wing clinics, via the member assistance program or at your local emergency room. Reach out to your friends, family members, leaders, padres and medical professionals for support.

Self-stigma regarding mental health must end. Just as you would expect to be helped by your colleagues on the battlefield if you were physically injured, your brothers and sisters in arms are with you in the fight against mental illness.Care is available to each of us. From private to General, from recruit to retirement; we’re a team and we’re there to support each other.

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