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This week across Canada the spotlight is being shone on the issue of mental illness through Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” campaign. At The Ottawa Mission, we can certainly relate to how important it is to end the stigma against mental illness and build a better understanding of how this type of illness affects people from all walks of life.

Every day at The Mission we open our doors to those who are suffering – from physical problems, from addictions, from loneliness. The fact is that, in the majority of cases, their problems are rooted in mental illness. It may be as a result of being traumatized by having served in the military in a war zone. It may be as a result of childhood abuse. It may be as a result of a mental health issue they have struggled with all their lives. Regardless of the cause, this issue is huge among people who are homeless.

Thankfully, through our partnerships with organizations like the Royal Ottawa Hospital, the Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Ottawa Police Service, we are able to direct some of those who are suffering from mental illness to the right resources to get the help they so desperately need. But the availability of these resources continues to be a big issue, and there are still far too many who fall through the cracks.

Our challenge is to make sure that people who are homeless – and without a voice – remain part of the discussion about the devastating impact of mental illness across our community and our society. We will continue to do all we can to give a voice to those who feel forgotten.

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