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Walking Together for Mental Illness Awareness


As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 1 – 5), Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre staff, volunteers, partners, patients and families are walking together to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

October 6, 2018

Mental Illness Awareness Week is an annual national public education campaign designed to open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness in Canada.

“Mental Illness Awareness Week is important because it brings attention to the issues faced by many people, including our own patients and their families, and helps us all understand the importance of mental health,” said Heather Kozak, C. Psychological Associate and Chair of the Hospital’s Mental Illness Awareness Committee. “Our Mental Illness Awareness Committee is committed to not only raising awareness of mental illness, but also reducing the stigma that unfortunately surrounds it.”

Due to a number of socio-economic realities that exist across Northwestern Ontario, our Hospital continues to experience high rates of acute mental health inpatient days. The Hospital recognizes the importance of mental health and has made it a priority in our Strategic Plan 2020.

“We are committed to adopting attitudes and behaviours that recognize mental health as an integral part of the delivery of comprehensive acute care services,” said Dr. Peter Voros, C.Psych, Executive Vice President, In-Patient Care Programs. “We are always improving the sensitivity of care for all patients who may be dealing with mental health concerns, and we incorporate mental health assessment within the admission history for all patients. Ensuring that mental health is viewed as an integral part of overall health and that all patients are satisfied with the level of mental health care they receive is a priority.”

Margaret Hajdinjak, who lost her son to suicide, knows first-hand how access to quality mental health care in a safe, stigma-free and welcoming environment can make all the difference in the lives of patients and their families.

“Mental illness and depression can affect anyone of any age, culture or background and it’s not always easy to identify,” she said. “That’s why raising awareness and erasing the stigma associated with mental illness is so important to me.  People need to know that it’s okay to ask for help, and I’m happy that the Hospital is making that a priority. It could save a life.”

To learn more about our Hospital’s Mental Health Program, please visit

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Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation
980 Oliver Road  |  Thunder Bay, ON, Canada P7B 6V4  |  807 345 4673  |
OUR MISSION: To inspire the people of Northwestern Ontario to give generously to advance our healthcare at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

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