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She’s crazy. He’s nuts. They’re psycho. For the many Canadians who will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, language like this hurts — and reinforces a stigma that surrounds this important issue in our society. Mental illness does not discriminate. Mental illness impacts people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
On the University of Calgary’s campus, mental health is the top reason that employees access the Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP) and accounts for 23 per cent of employee leave cases. For students, 25 per cent have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition and 12 per cent have seriously considered suicide in the past year.
The Campus Mental Health Strategy launched with a vision to be a community of caring. The strategy is moving forward with six focus areas and 28 recommendations to establish the university as a leader in the area of mental health and wellness.
Andrew Szeto is the director of the initiative, as well as a scholar in stigma reduction and anti-stigma programming. We asked him a few questions about how everyone can work to create a more welcoming environment.
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