MONTREAL – Prejudices surrounding mental illness persist, something Mental Illness Awareness Week aims to lessen — not only for sufferers, but for family and friends as well.


The Federation of Families and Friends of People with Mental Illness said one of the issues it is concerned with is that community groups that support the family and friends of those with mental illnesses are also victims of prejudice.


Christiane Trudel, social worker and president of the federation, said often relatives of sick people are reluctant to ask for help, preferring to live with the problem in isolation or secrecy.


Trudel is trying to reassure those people, saying that community groups meet strict and stringent standards. She added that they have become the gateway for family and friends who often live with major emotional distress.

“Sometimes even students don’t want to talk about it, but it touches their immediate families,” said school principal Josee Pepin.


The Federation unites 40 associations across Quebec whose mission is to provide support to the family and friends of those with mental illness, offering a diverse range of free services such as individual meetings, information, awareness and training, group assistance and relief measures.


It responds to over 60,000 requests for assistance annually.


Again this year, the Federation is using the website to provide professionals and intervention groups as resources.


An estimated one out of five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetimes.


Meantime, more than 2,000 people marched through downtown Montreal Sunday morning in the 6th annual Walk for Mental Health.


The goal was to raise money and awareness to fight the stigma associated with the illness.


“We can live very healthy, happy, normal lives with an illness with a mental illness,” said mental health advocate Kathleen Dugas, who went 25 years before seeking help for her bipolar disorder.


“When patients tell you that stigma is worse than the disease or the mental illness or the mental suffering, well then you have to do something for that,” said psychiatrist Dr. Francois Borgeat.
Thank you CTV News Montreal.