DND asks soldiers to share stories of mental health issues, care in videos
The Department of National Defence is asking members of the Canadian Armed Forces to share their stories about receiving care for mental health issues in a series of video segments, CTV News has learned.
CTV News' Mercedes Stephenson has obtained a copy of a letter that was sent to soldiers, which states that the Directorate of Mental Health is working with the Department of National Defence's office of Public Affairs to produce a series of short video segments about the Canadian Armed Forces Mental Health Services.
The letter says that it is not necessary for soldiers to have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in order to participate in the project.
"While much of the media and political attention is on PTSD and operationally related mental health issues, we realize that the bulk of the mental health issues that we see in the CAF are not PTSD and are not always related to operations," the letter says.
"Ideally DMH would like to interview people from a variety of ranks, occupational and environmental backgrounds who have sought mental health care."
The letter says the videos will help "demystify" some of the barriers surrounding mental health care.
"We know that there are numerous success stories out there of folks who have sought some level of mental health care, received services from CF Health Services and support from their chain of command, and gradually recovered and continued on with their careers."
In a statement to CTV News, Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations at the Department of National Defence, said "care of the ill and injured is a priority for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.
"The DND and the CAF are continuing its efforts to reduce stigma, encourage those suffering from mental illness to seek care, and to give hope to those with mental illness that care is available and recovery possible.
As part of this work, DND and the CAF are developing further products including videos in partnership with stakeholders to keep mental health and wellness top of mind."
A veteran's advocacy group says the videos could help in eliminating the stigma attached to soldiers seeking mental care.
"Even though it has clearly been motivated by exterior pressure, I think if these videos are done correctly, they could be a great tool -- in theory -- in our collective battle to eliminate the military stigma issue," said Michael Blais, president and founder of Canadian Veterans Advocacy.
It's "an issue which I believe is the one of the greatest deterrents to self identification and the provision of comprehensive care," added Blais.