The 66th annual Canadian Mental Health Association Mental Health Week began May 1. Canadians are hearing the Canadian Mental Health Association’s call to GET LOUD for mental health and they are raising their voices to end discrimination, stigma and shame at mentalhealthweek.ca.

“I think of ‘getting loud’ as a giant megaphone for mental health. The people we love, and the people we elect need to hear that mental health is an essential part of health, and of health care,” says Susan Henderson, Executive Director of CMHA’s Colchester East Hants branch.

This year, the focus of CMHA Mental Health Week took aim at long wait times for mental health care.

“Nova Scotians are waiting an unbearably long time for mental health care,” says Henderson. “Some people have reported waiting up to a year or more to see a mental health professional. The longer we wait for health care, the worse our health becomes; this holds true for mental health problems and illnesses as much as for physical illness.”

The CMHA is one place people can go while waiting. The agency’s supports and programs aimed at supporting mental health are often life-saving. Approximately 4,000 Canadians die by suicide each year, most of whom had a treatable mental illness at the time of their death.

The growing need for community-based mental health care is leading Henderson and her team to take action in a big way. The organization has recently purchased a vacant building in downtown Truro, and will be renovating it to create an innovative centre for mental health.

“It won’t be like anything you’ve seen before. The space will be bright and welcoming,” says Henderson. “The new space will allow us to continue to expand our wellness programs for adults, youth, and family members.”

A fundraising campaign for the new building kicked off this Saturday, May 6 at a #GetLoud event at the Colchester Legion Stadium in Truro. The event featured local DJ Archie Funker, the largest Zumba party in town, a mechanical bull and much more. Live music was provided by local rock band, Indifference.