Better mental health begins with health promotion for all. In particular, upstream approaches to a mentally healthy society, such as building resiliency, awareness and mental health literacy. Mental health promotion is proven to be a low cost investment with high returns on population health.
Early intervention and education can reduce overall demands on the health care system. Investments made in community-level programs strengthen mental health and wellbeing across the population.
In Alberta, disparate mental health promotion activities undertaken provincially lack strategic coordination. Public education is fragmented between providers such as Alberta Health Services, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and other not-for-profits with little to no harmonization.
CMHA in Alberta, through its nine regional offices, offers mental health promotion across the province. In many cases, the Government of Alberta does not fund this crucial and effective community level work.
Healthy Campus Alberta (HCA) is an example of a successful mental health promotion initiative. HCA is community of practice that serves to partner with campuses and stakeholders interested in post-secondary mental health and addiction from across the province. HCA’s vision is to “educate, collaborate, and advocate; transforming culture and creating caring campus communities throughout the province of Alberta.”25 This CMHA in Alberta project is committed to achieving the mission through accessible and sustainable program ideas; sharing best practices and research; and fostering a culture of support and compassion for all post-secondary institutions across Alberta, all while recognizing their unique needs for success.
“The considerable and growing annual cost of treating mental health problems and mental illness in Canada— $42 billion nationwide and $6.3 billion in workplaces—has brought increased attention to the early and continuous development of positive mental health. Through interventions in communities, workplaces and schools, mental health promotion (MHP) cultivates positive mental health for all people, including those living with and without a mental illness.”
–Cohesive, Collaborative, Collective: Advancing Mental Health Promotion in Canada (26), CMHA