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Good mental-health practices are everyone’s responsibility, says Ontario Tech researcher

Dr. Wendy Stanyon’s Mindsight educational resource designed to reduce stigma and encourage people to talk about their challenges

Typography image - connecting socially while respecting physical distancing.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an anxious and stressful time for everyone. While we are practicing physical distancing, it is especially important for us to stay close to others emotionally.

Social connection is this year’s theme for the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday, May 4 through Sunday, May 10). Research shows that social connection and social support are key factors that protect and promote good mental health. The good news is, you don’t have to be in physical proximity to nurture a sense of closeness and connection.

“We need to remember to be kind to ourselves during these times,” says Dr. Wendy Stanyon, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences. “Part of that is reaching out: talking to people, asking for help when we need it and trying to be there to listen to others. Good mental-health practices are everyone’s responsibility.”

For some, stigma gets in the way of talking openly about mental-health challenges. People may fear being judged or discriminated against by friends, family members and co-workers if they reveal they are struggling with anxiety, depression or other issues.

Dr. Stanyon developed Mindsight as a free, easy-to-use online educational resource designed to reduce stigma by promoting awareness of mental illness, and facilitate a greater understanding of basic strategies and resources for supporting individuals experiencing a mental-health challenge.

Mindsight takes approximately two hours to complete and you do not have to complete it in one session. Mindsight addresses stigma and highlights the signs and symptoms of nine common mental illnesses:

  • anxiety
  • bipolar disorder
  • depression
  • eating disorders
  • psychosis
  • self-harm
  • substance abuse
  • suicide
  • trauma

It also includes self-help strategies; strategies for helping a friend, colleague or family member; possible treatment options; and available community resources.

Using fast facts, videos and personal testimonials, you can easily navigate through the learning material.

At the end of each of the sections, there is a short quiz based on the material you have just reviewed. If you chose to complete the quizzes, you can apply for a Mindsight certificate of completion.

To become Mindsight-certified, visit

Important fast facts about mental illness

From the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health:

  • COVID-19 will have a profound impact on mental health from people already living with mental illness to the general population.
  • More than 4,000 Canadians per year die by suicide—an average of almost 11 a day. It affects people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • Mental illness can cut 10 to 20 years from a person’s life expectancy.

From the Canadian Mental Health Association:

  • Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures.
  • Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada, preventing nearly 500,000 employed Canadians from attending work each week.
  • One in five people in Canada will personally experience a mental health or addiction challenge in any given year.
  • Fifty per cent of the population will have or have had a mental illness by age 40.
  • People who experience challenges with substance use are more likely than others to be diagnosed with a mental illness.

From the Mood Disorders Society of Canada:

  • Ninety per cent of people who are depressed never seek treatment.

From Statistics Canada:

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death on post-secondary campuses.

From the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction:

  • Canadians are the highest per-capita users of psychiatric medications in the world.

Media contact
Patricia Pickett
Communications and Marketing
Ontario Tech University
905.809.1675 (mobile)