​​​​​


​News


I Remember: Rosalynn Carter

by Bill Wilkerson

Globe and Mail, Tuesday, November 21, 2023


In 1997, I met Rosalynn Carter twice: once in Washington, where I hosted a reception in her honour staged by the World Federation for Mental Health, and again a few weeks later at the Carter Center in Atlanta for a one-hour sit-down with this magnificent woman and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. Read the article


Introducing the MHI 'Mental Life in Canada” Report


MENTAL LIFE IN CANADA: New Report
The following report is a comprehensive assessment of mental health concerns and relevant initiatives introduced by Mental Health International in 2023, and available at the dedicated micro website www.mentallifecanada.com. The report deals head-on with a variety of contentious issues including the links, if any, between brain-based mental disorders and violence in the streets. The report was authored by Bill Wilkerson who has sole responsibility for its content.


SEB Speaker Series | Bill Wilkerson | Our Mental Health & Wellbeing

SEB is honoured to have Bill Wilkerson speak at the SEB Mental Health Awareness week Speakers Series on May 2nd from 12:00 pm to 12:45 pm. 
 
 Bill is an experienced CEO and an recognized crisis management expert;;
The first civilian mental health adviser for the RCMP; An award-winning pioneer in workplace mental health. Widely recognized for his work in suicide prevention especially among children. Please see his bio below.
 
In this talk, Bill will speak with us in a conversational, informal manner, and will be happy to receive your questions. He will discuss our ‘mental life’ - our mental health and wellbeing - what mental disorders are and are not, why they happen, the importance of being vigilant to protect the mental health of our kids. This will be an important opportunity to better understand a complicated topic that affects all of us at work, at home and across the full experience of our lives.
 
Ask the expert!  If you have any questions about mental health and how to manoeuvre specific challenges, colleagues are encouraged to send their confidential questions to  hr@seb-groupinc.com. Colleague anonymity will be maintained.  
 
Speaker Bio
Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Mental Health International 
Co-Founder and President, Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health
Founder and Chairman, U.S.-Canada Forum on Mental Health and Productivity 
Founder and Chairman, European Business Forum for Mental Health and Productivity 
Mental Health Adviser, RCMP 
Founding Fellow, UBC Institute for Mental Health 
Neuroeconomics Adviser to the Scientific Director, Douglas Institute for Mental Health (McGill)
Industry Professor, International Mental Health, McMaster University 


Mental Life in Canada: A Mental Health International Report
Wednesday, March 1, 2023


The Society:  HUMAN CAPITALISM IN A BRAIN ECONOMY



MENTAL HEALTH IN THE ERA OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE’ 

In 2019, Mental Health International introduced an analysis of ‘Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence.' Following here is the full report and several spin-off’s of the original report.


Bill Wilkerson continues his analysis of mental health in the era of artificial intelligence. He kicked off this dialogue in May 2019 with his now widely-travelled report:


OF TWO MINDS: One Human, One Not

Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence
April 2023 RE-RELEASE
Original Release June 2019


‘BRAIN CAPITAL’ in the era of AI 
HR Reporter
By Bill Wilkerson
October 5, 2020

"Unless we prepare for tech revolution, AI could trigger superstorm of chronic workforce stress."
Read the article >

  
September 25, 2019

Podcast Interview with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and Bill Wilkerson


Artificial Intelligence: Managing the Positive and Negative Implications for Workers


The spread of artificial intelligence (AI) into science, society, and the workplace is a revolutionary change that will have profound impacts on not only jobs but also the well-being of workers. Bill Wilkerson, Executive Chairman of Mental Health International, authored a recently published report entitled One Human One Not: Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence. In this episode Bill shares his views and findings from the report and recommends that AI be managed carefully to prevent it from becoming a major intruder into the mental health and well-being of workers and families.  Listen Now    www.ccohs.ca

August 9, 2019

‘OF TWO MINDS – One Human, One Not Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence’


The world is crossing an historic bridge between human and artificial intelligence, bringing together two minds, one human, one not. Can we keep them both healthy? This is unclear.  

But this much is clear. The revolution in artificial intelligence is a vivid and present danger to the livelihood and health of hundreds of millions of working people and their families worldwide, threatening to displace and replace human beings in whole jobs and specific tasks on an unprecedented scale. 

Even the most informed proponents of AI worry about this. According to Dr. Alan Bernstein, CEO, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), “AI will force us to challenge our cherished views of what it means to be human.” 

The World Economic Forum forecasts that individuals in some 375 million jobs will be rotated out of those jobs.  According to consulting giant McKinsey, 60-90% of all jobs now in place will be affected by artificial intelligence.


Unless employers and governments prepare for this revolution by retraining workers, creating replacement jobs that demand distinctly human traits, and forging new education and career models, social unrest and public alienation will intensify in a world already fractured by income inequality. 

Dr. Bernstein, who leads the Pan-Canadian Strategy on AI, sees “AI as such a powerful platform for analyzing data in new ways that its applications will extend into every aspect of our lives.”

If AI feeds human mental unrest, disquiet and disorder, then it will damage society and if it is cloaked in confusion and lack of transparency, then it will de-humanize the environments in which people live and work.

If the sole driving purpose of AI is to displace employees to cut costs, then it will not only cheapen the cost of producing goods and services, it will cheapen our way life.

Generating invasive, job uncertainty, the deep learning of machines could be a super-power of deep stress for human beings if its infusion is careless and unmanaged. Deep stress is at the root of frustration, fear, anger and rumination which predicts depression

Deep, chronic stress can move us toward depression and just as cancer is a malignant growth, depression – in the words of author Lewis Wolpen - is malignant darkness.

It is also the trigger of 90% of suicides, now the leading cause of violent death. Human beings are killing ourselves faster than we are killing other people. Guns kill more Americans through suicide than homicide.

In late 2018, according to the Economist, suicides in the United States skyrocketed by 18% while globally, suicide declined by nearly 29%, saving nearly three million lives.

Across their lifetime, 50% of populations are symptomatic of mental illness and, in any given year, 20% of the population is afflicted.  And these human beings are the faces of the troubled, turbulent times in which the effects of artificial intelligence will be felt.

On a promising note, just as AI may increase the stress-born burden of mental illness, AI apps are being developed to help us better manage depression and anxiety disorders – and even to prevent suicidal risk.

Artificial intelligence is being developed to diagnose and treat schizophrenia more effectively, model psychiatric illness to test new methods of treatment, improve the diagnosis of schizophrenia and improve understanding of autism. 

To improve internal decision-making, the Government of Canada has invested heavily in AI systems for internal use, introducing a ‘Directive on Automated Decision-Making’ and an “algorithmic assessment” to spell out ethical responsibilities for the use of AI,

The inevitable ‘but’ surfaces, though, when we consider time frames. The potentially oppressive nature of artificial intelligence as a source of job loss is imminent while counter measures usually take time.

Therefore, my report on mental health in the era of artificial intelligence calls for the  “human capitalization” of the AI workplace and digital economy to help balance the billion-dollar investments in machines with billion-dollar investments in people to ensure the supremacy of human beings in the AI workplace.

Human capitalization of the AI workplace should start now with the introduction of workplace protocols or standards  - mandated by law, if necessary – to establish the values that will govern entry of AI into the workplace, assess the threats to those values and take steps necessary to neutralize those threats.

On reflection, the ‘human capitalization of AI workplace’ might be stated as the ‘humanization of artificial intelligence in the workplace, this, to eliminate the risks of a troubling ambiguity between the role of people and machines.

In fact, it is clear that the AI revolution is not just a technology event, it is a human event. Surely, it can be leveraged into a positive and transformative, ‘new job’ and ‘new career’ experience for the people who otherwise are written off as short-term pain.

Key to this will be a major transition – from an economy where employees are generally seen as a cost to cut rather than an investment to make. 

The AI era will produce technology that will be deployed to valuate people as financial assets, monetizing the human factor in productive capacity, innovation and competitiveness.

In this context, expenditures by employers on employee retraining, reskilling incumbent workers and supporting mental health and well-being is an investment with a calculable and reasonable return.

Investments in people as a defining asset of the 21st century economy also means fostering employment opportunities that demand uniquely human qualities and a focus AI on taking over specific tasks not whole jobs. 

The AI revolution is now, and a look into the more distant future is also called for. Perhaps, in Canada, through a Royal Commission on the ‘Prospects for Human Dignity, Development and Health in the 21st Century.” Such an endeavor could be far-reaching in complex times.

Human Capitalism + Artificial Intelligence: ‘Toward Better Management’ 





Serving the Mental Health Legacy of the Late Honourable Michael Wilson


Michael Wilson Led Canada, Canada Led the World.

The Globe and Mail, Saturday, July 18, 2020


Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon), Executive Chairman, Mental Health International, reflects on his 20-year partnership with the Late Michael Wilson in workplace mental health and, with acclaimed University of Toronto physician-scientist Roger McIntyre, projects Mr. Wilson’s legacy into the future. 


Enduring Milestone

A great Canadian, Michael Wilson’s smile lit up every horizon he crossed. He was a man of his nation whose memory and legacy now belong to all Canadians.

Michael was the chairman of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health, succeeding Co-Founder, Tim Price, Chairman of Brookfield Funds. Tim is a powerful mental health advocate and a great Canadian in his own right.

This is the 20th anniversary of the first Business Plan to Defeat Depression that Michael signed and took to the world on July 20, 2000, setting in motion a chain of events resonating across decades.

International Leadership
In Michael Wilson’s words: “We are poised, as Canadians, to show international leadership by opening a new front — the workplace and economy — in the old war against mental illness.’

The Business Plan to Defeat Depression was rooted in CEO leadership and top Canadian executives stood with Michael, putting mental health where it had never been before. That is, on the agenda of big banks and major companies across this country and eventually beyond our borders.

Through these corporate pioneers:

  • Canada brought North America the US/Canada Forum on Mental Health and Productivity.
  • Canada introduced a series of CEO Mental Health Summits hosted by our major banks whose boardrooms became, symbolically, original housing for a new era of workplace mental health.
  • Canada produced CEO, CFO, investor and boards of director Guidelines for Mental Health and Productivity, innovations exported to target depression in the workplaces of Europe
  • Canada was home to the first website devoted to strategies, guidance and tools for employers to manage mental health in the workplace, the initiative of Great West Life Assurance Company, now Canada Life.


Into the Future
As noted, the Business Plan to Defeat Depression, was an act of corporate leadership. The question: is that leadership energy still there?  Some say it is not. If true, it must be rediscovered. Here’s why:


  • Scientists (McIntyre et al) have linked unemployment rates with suicide. One percentage point up, one life lost. Companies continue to end the employment of people as the first not last resort of adjusting to economic pressure. Michael Wilson decried this publicly.
  • Loneliness is now a public health concern fast-forwarding into millions of lives including young people entering early adulthood more stressed and depressed than generations before them.


Michael Wilson 2020
Looking to the future, might we see a new ‘Business Plan to Defeat Depression’ and might we call it Michael Wilson 2020 to capture the spirit of aspiration and action that Michael embodied.

In years past, there were obvious mental health and workplace issues for business to target — issues affecting business costs, productivity, innovation and lost work time.

But these are different times — the pandemic, job loss, climate change, pursuit of justice in the streets. In this context, the mental health goals of business must serve broader societal purposes.

For this reason: the environments in which we live and work are part of the “gene + environment” dynamic causing mental disorders across whole lifetimes from one generation to the next. 

Michael Wilson pointed to the “flesh and blood of capitalism” as the property through which business can help reduce these environmental risks.

From this vantage point, business leaders can help achieve a series of Great Societal Goals leading toward the prevention of human misery and economic cost associated with mental illness.

  • To prevent suicide including children coping with despair delivered by social media;
  • To prevent depression’s dangerous effects on the course of heart disease, cancer and diabetes;
  • To prevent workplace and marketplace spread of misogyny, racism, hate and chronic stress;
  • To prevent abuse of the elderly in all places at all times;
  • To prevent eco-anxiety among youth apprehending a future of climate change;

And

  • To declare and explicitly and value inherently all people of colour as stakeholders to whom business is accountable.


The Unmet Need of 500 Million People
In his efforts to embed mental health in the workplace as a corporate priority,  Michael Wilson expressed a strong view that business and science must work together in common cause.

Michael envisioned “an international, workplace-centered, business + science alliance to reverse the tides of brain-based mental disorders and to press for new science to be translated more quickly into innovative clinical care to meet the unmet needs of a half billion people.”

A formula was developed ‘brain health + brain skills = brain capital’ to unify business and science, advancing Michael’s vision.

Flying on the wing of closer synergy between business and science are these clinically-significant priorities for the next three to five years brought into view by Dr. Roger McIntyre:

Priority: strengthen human resilience: our capacity to deal with life.

Priority: discover treatments that alleviate depression symptoms in a day.

Priority: develop treatments specifically aimed at preventing suicide.

Priority: make mental health care accessible for all.

Priority: advance ‘precision medicine’ to identify who will respond to treatment, and who will not.

Priority: expand technology for early detection, improved treatment and medical home care.

These clinical priorities and the societal goals for business will enhance the asset value of human capital in the workplace and in the marketplace — that is, the productivity of employees and the purchasing power of consumers.

An acutely well-timed revolution. Today, so-called ‘intangible’ assets — people — constitute 80% of the reported asset value of corporations. Not technology. Not things. Human beings.

The priorities and societal goals set out here, therefore, will sustain these vital human assets and, in doing so, represent an historic opportunity for business.    

A Moment in Time
When Michael Wilson passed away, a large cloud rolled-in from another place. But it didn’t last all that long. In death, as in life, Michael‘s optimism shone through. He would have loved the findings of a recent survey:

Even while they contended with the effects of COVID-19, young people — more than any other age group — “feel the most hopeful about the future.”

Let this nourish our soul.  Just as Michael Wilson would want us to.


------------------------------


September 28, 2021

The Friends of Mental Health: Recognition of Helen Lackey


Friends, one of the most enduring forms of recognition in anyone’s life – for their work, for their contribution, for their volunteerism – is the recognition that comes from your home community. From the people who know you best, who experience your value directly.


Well, that is the recognition received this past weekend by our colleague and friend, Helen Lackey, who received a distinguished Civic Award granted annually by the Town of Cobourg, Ontario, just east of Toronto.


Helen’s “outstanding volunteerism” was celebrated in the light of her remarkable contributions to her community on several levels, prominently, her selfless, continuing, effective and kindly support of the settlement of a recent refugee family from Syria. Her compassion, her savvy in getting things done for this family, her resolution in helping their day-to-day entry into a new world and new way of life was definitive in their successful adjustment.


Further, the Civic Award also recognized what the Award organizers and hosts described as an “unprecedented contribution” through an innovation described as the Four Fridays in February, 2020 – that is, a series of community gatherings to examine and learn about Cobourg’s current and future plans to support residents living with mental disorders and suffering greatly thereby.


Helen achieved the “Four Fridays” as a member of the Rotary Club of Cobourg and it was in that same capacity, in 2021, when Helen played an instrumental role in creating a COVID vaccination centre in Cobourg that became a model that guided other communities in this same endeavour.


As many of you know, Helen serves as the Administrator, Corporate Secretary and Director of Mental Health International, and works day after day with grace and humour and superb efficiencies which flow from her experience in and knowledge of the practice of law.


But even more than that – as part of Four Fridays – Helen recounted her own family experiences with mental health crises. Hundreds of fellow Cobourg residents learned from this. And a lesson of this nature learned from another’s practical experience can save lives.


I am delighted to share the news about Helen’s recognition and her continuing commitment to the public health interests not only of her home community but her home country and from that, we all benefit. I salute Helen for that reason.


Bill Wilkerson



September 13th, 2021

Being Seen, Being Heard, Being Helped: Atlantic Youth Come Together


MHI is pleased to post this report on an extraordinary discussion among young people from Atlantic Canada and encourage everyone to examine their insights.


For Young People in Crisis, Mental Health Care in Atlantic Canada is a ‘Closed Door


Jillian Stringer, Co-Chair, Youth Advisory Council,
Mood Disorders Society of Canada – jillstringer3@gmail.com


Children shouldn’t have to die for mental health to get attention. Yet, many communities find themselves spurred into action in the wake of the preventable loss of young lives.


Two young women - one, 24, the other, 16 – died from suicide in New Brunswick, recently and questions arose as to whether the healthcare system failed them both.

Mental Health International Executive Chairman Bill Wilkerson – who looked into these tragedies and worked with families affected by mental illnesses in that province - picked up the phone and called 24-year-old public health student - Jill Stringer back in July.

Jill co-chairs the National Youth Advisory Council for the Mood Disorders Society of Canada and was keen to reach out to her peers in Atlantic Canada to examine the level and quality of mental health services from the perspective of young people in that region.

The result was a roundtable of young people - students and community members - which examined the question and found mental health services for youth inexact, incomplete, often out of reach, and for those in crisis, a closed door.

The discussion centered on what many patients, caregivers, friends, and families already know - that we can do better.

Most young people at the Roundtable described the barriers they faced when seeking treatment. Even those who described “okay” experiences attributed this to their advantages of family and income, recognizing for others, the struggle for care runs deep.

The experiences of the participants in the Roundtable were supplemented by community feedback collected prior to the event, bringing to light barriers including steep price tags, inconsistent medical coverage, far distances to travel, and seemingly endless wait times - over a year in some cases.

One said this:


“I’ve personally been lucky in my receipt of services, but it shouldn’t come down to luck or privilege. As Canadians we tend to pride ourselves on our healthcare yet we continue to further a dangerous divide between the private and public sectors in the mental health sphere. Counselling, or psychotherapy, despite generally being one of the ‘gold standards’ for treatment, is still not universally covered for Canadians.”

Through the Newfoundland Premier’s Youth Council, Julia White (23, NL) advocates for affordable psychotherapy, knowing that it is one of the most effective treatments for mental health concerns. Working as a psychiatric emergency nurse, Julia sees the evidence of this first-hand, where wait times are onerous and services unaffordable for so many. 

The Roundtable called for Canada-wide financial support for mental healthcare for those on social assistance, those with part-time employment, and anyone who can’t afford to pay $200 out of pocket for an hour of counselling each week.

At the same time, the group highlighted how local and provincial mental health services can still learn a lot from each other about what works and what doesn’t for youth in need.

Shaina Harvey (23, NB), spoke about Saint John’s desperate need “for proper (and appropriately-timed) access to healthcare and education”. 

An observation about her own community that is echoed by New Brunswick’s poor track record for mental health on the national and international stage.

The province’s suicide rate has exceeded the national average for the sixteen of the past twenty years (Centre for Suicide Prevention). They also currently find themselves in a shortage of staff for their hospital emergency rooms - a fact that Shaina worries might discourage youth in crisis from seeking help altogether.

However, rather than depending on emergency rooms that are already understaffed with professionals who are overworked and often not trained in psychiatric care, we need investments in appropriate psychological emergency services.

St. John’s, Newfoundland for example, has a mobile crisis response team made up of specially trained nurses, social workers, and de-uniformed police officers. This travelling response team has been relatively well-received by the community and has been good at preventing hospitalizations of community members experiencing mental distress.

However, in order to effectively help folks in distress, we need sufficient resources and proper training to ensure the competency not only for these crisis teams but for other professionals like police and emergency room staff who respond when the crisis team is busy.

Unfortunately, as Amelia Jones (21, Labrador) pointed out - it’s not really feasible to provide the same type of service in rural Labrador for instance, where crisis responders would have to drive long distances to make contact with patients in need.

Amelia’s community has been using telehealth and eHealth services and she described that patients can have virtual visits with practitioners or mental health specialists from a private space in a local clinic set up with internet access and video conferencing.

Of course, potentially life-saving conversations about mental health and mental illness are often still precluded by overwhelming stigma.

While the group tended to feel that overall attitudes towards mental health have improved, particularly amongst their own generation, it is apparent that stigma is still prevalent.  

Julia notes that in her practice as a nurse, second only to financial constraints, negative perspectives about mental health are still one of the most common barriers she sees to folks getting care, especially for patients over the age of 40.

Importantly, unique communities have unique needs. Different communities too, continue to have different attitudes towards mental health and mental illness themselves.

As Shirin Mehrpooya (19, NS) notes - “There still seems to be a stigma among students and professionals pursuing healthcare”, especially.


“From my own academic experience in a healthcare-driven program, speaking about mental illness is discouraged in the community because it shows ‘weakness.’"


Heartbreakingly, other Roundtable participants in health studies echoed this perspective – noting that mental illness is consistently perceived negatively when applying to health professional degrees.

Julia herself, also explained that she has faced backlash for being open about her own mental health journey throughout her nursing career.


“My mental illness doesn’t define who I am, but it is a big part of what drew me to healthcare. My experience allows me to empathize with patients and better understand their concerns. I think it is valuable for someone with lived experience to help others navigate their path to wellness by showing that their concerns can be worked through, and that mental health challenges don’t have to limit you”.


“Continuing to expect that our healthcare professionals do not experience mental health problems is not viable for the future of our mental healthcare system” says Shirin.

The group tended to agree that the knowledge base of mental health care providers has been getting better, with Julia even noting that people with lived experience of mental illness were brought in to speak about mental health during her time at nursing school.

But there is still a need to reconcile physical health care with mental health care. Both depend on the other. Often a family physician is a patient’s first (or only) point of contact with the healthcare system for their mental health concerns, but patients may feel that doctors don’t have enough specialized knowledge or even time to effectively help someone with a mental illness. 

One of the biggest shortcomings that came up was the discrepancy between textbook knowledge and empathic practice.  

Amelia wondered “if the problem is not with the practitioners themselves but with our system that is producing the doctors, nurses, and professionals in the first place”.

How can physicians, nurses, or therapists be expected to have compassion towards others seeking help for mental illness if they were never afforded empathy or flexibility themselves?

What kind of tone does it set to tell aspiring professionals that they shouldn’t be open about their own mental health for they’d risk hurting their chances of becoming a doctor at all?

How can frontline workers be patient and caring towards someone with mental illness if they don’t have the time to be? Or if they’re overworked, burnt out, and compassion-fatigued?  

Of course, the answers to all these complex questions aren’t found in just one roundtable, but being willing to have the conversation is a crucial first step.

In considering what the group wanted to come of their discussion, everyone agreed on the importance of advocacy - something many representatives at the roundtable already do so readily in their communities.         

Amelia has been working with a local representative in Labrador to reach out to community Elders and provide mental health education.

Shirin brings equity-seeking youth together from around Nova Scotia to attend meetings of local government and amplify the youth voice in the discussion surrounding mental health.

Importantly, this Roundtable falls against the backdrop of our COVID-19 recovery efforts and a federal election campaign that officially began just a week or so earlier.

And for the first time, all three major national political parties claim mental health as a priority. 

An opportunity.


“Bring your concerns to your local representatives. Let them know what you need from them and work with them to get it. If they won’t work with you, make them work for you. As your elected representative, that’s what they’re there for.” - Amelia

About

Contributing their insight to the conversation were students Shaina Harvey (NB), Amelia Jones (Labrador), Shirin Merhpooya (NS), and psychiatric emergency nurse Julia White (NL). The roundtable was hosted by Jill Stringer (ON) with supported from Stacie Smith (NB) and Bill Wilkerson (ON).

Jillian Stringer (She/Her) (ON) is a second year Public Health Masters student at the University of Guelph and co-chairs the National Youth Advisory Council with the Mood Disorders Society of Canada (Refer: jillianstringer3@gmail.com).

Shaina Harvey (She/Her) (NB) is a fourth-year biopsychology student at the University of New Brunswick Saint John. Shaina is a member of the Saint John Suicide Prevention Committee and an active mental health advocate. 


Amelia Jones (She/Her) (Labrador) is studying biology and neuroscience at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland where she is also a member of the Premier’s Youth Council.

Shirin Merhpooya (She/Her) (NS) is currently living in Halifax, studying medical science and health studies at Dalhousie University. She is also the president of AMPLIFY NS, youth-led, grassroots organization that connects equity-seeking youth with mental health professionals and local decision makers.  

Julia White (She/Her) (NL) is a psychiatric emergency nurse in St. John’s Newfoundland and graduate of Memorial University. She is an active member of the Newfoundland Premier’s Youth Council and the 2021-2022 Newfoundland and Labrador Network Representative for Jack.org.

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News Release

September 13, 2021

ATLANTIC CANADA YOUTH CITE GAPS IN ACCESS AND AFFORDABILITY OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES


Youth Services “A Closed Door” for Many

An Atlantic Canada Youth Roundtable on Mental Health has concluded that mental health services for youth in that region are “inexact, incomplete, often out of reach and for those in crisis, a closed door.”

A Report on the Youth Roundtable - organized and led by the Co-Chair of the National Youth Advisory Council for the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, Jillian Stringer - has been circulated among communities and government leaders in the Atlantic provinces.

Even young people who described “okay experiences” with mental healthcare in Eastern Canada attributed this to their own family and income advantages, while, for others, the struggle for care runs deep.

The Roundtable was the centerpiece of fact-finding by young people. Community feedback was collected prior to the event “bringing to light steep price tags for prescription drugs, medical insurance, far distances to travel for care, and seemingly endless wait times.”

Meanwhile, the Newfoundland Premier’s Youth Council, calls for “affordable psychotherapies -one of the most effective treatments” and “Canada-wide financial support for mental health care among Canadians on social assistance, working only part-time, and who find $200 per therapy session out of reach.”

Saint John, New Brunswick, is in “desperate need for proper and appropriately-accessible mental health care and education. This shortage is compounded by a provincial suicide rate in that has exceeded the national average for 16 of the past 20 years (Centre for Suicide Prevention) and staff shortages in hospital emergency rooms - factors that will discourage youth from seeking help.”

The Roundtable also heard that students pursuing health education are discouraged from mentioning their own experience with mental illness because they will be looked upon by professional schools as “weak.”

Roundtable chair Jillian Stringer said “the group reached a clear-cut consensus, that continued advocacy by young people for an accessible, empathic, and affordable mental healthcare system is essential. Youth are beginning to accept mental health and mental health problems - as a natural part of the human experience.”


Refer: Jillian Stringer, Co-Chair, Youth Advisory Council, Mood Disorders Society of Canada (jillianstringer3@gmail.com) or Bill Wilkerson (bill.wilkerson@mentalhealthinternational.ca)


August 26, 2021

A Milestone. Mental Health as a Canadian Election Issue


Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, today declared ‘mental health’ a surprise election issue  in Canada’s current federal campaign.


A first.

And to everyone who has worked hard in whatever capacity to “normalize” our ability to discuss, learn about and understand that mental health problems are part of the human experience, I say bravo to all of you.

The three major national parties all claim mental health as a priority. This means it should stay high on the leader board no matter the result of the vote.

That said, we need, all of us, to be very careful not to interpret a federal political embrace of mental health in a political contest to mean the leader of the next Government will have a clear idea about what spending more money on mental health actually means.

The point is this: more money will not solve with what’s fundamentally wrong with mental health care in Canada.

We will need a new, more informed, more compassionate approach as to reining-in the effects of what mental health conditions across Canadian life.

We will need a clearer picture of how so-called ‘general hospitals’ are accredited to provide psychiatric services through a dedicated unit and how emergency services are accredited to deliver informed mental health care under those circumstances.

I will comment on this in the next few days.

Thanks, Bill



July 2, 2021

Mental Health International’s Bill Wilkerson, appeals to New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs to Order Independent investigation of Saint John Regional Hospital.


Posted below is a letter by Bill Wilkerson to Premier Higgs of New Brunswick asking for a provincial investigation into the suicide death of a patient in the psychiatric care of Saint John Regional Hospital last December.


Also, posted is a news release put out today. Wilkerson underscores that the Saint John Hospital, operated by Horizon Health Network, also mentioned, has itself found deficiencies in the operation of its psychiatric unit. New Brunswick has a suicide rate higher than the national average, it was the highest among the ten provinces as recently as 2016, and in light of this, “hospitals in that province should be on alert not asleep at the switch.”


Bill is encouraging general hospitals that provide “side bar” psychiatric care in Canada to audit the the status of their practices to protect in-patients from harming themselves, especially those on suicide watch as in the New Brunswick case.


July 2, 2021

To:        Honourable Blaine Higgs, Premier of New Brunswick
From:   Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon)


Re: Horizon Health Network’, Patricia Borthwick and her daughter’s death in the care of Saint John Regional Hospital


Premier, on April 28, you kindly wrote me to advise that that you are “listening and taking action” with respect to our concerns as to how Horizon Health failed to respond in a courteous, compassionate and timely manner to the questions for information posed by Patricia Borthwick, a resident of Utopia, N.B., pursuant to the death by suicide of her daughter while in the care of Saint John Regional Hospital. Your letter was in reply to mine of April 6, 2021.  

As you may recall, I am a national and international mental health advocate and proponent of suicide prevention, I am advising Patty on a pro bono, personal basis as I do from time to time in support of families contending with mental health crisis and, frequently, the liability-aware nature of how health care institutions communicate with families of patients.

In the matter of Patty’s daughter, the first response she got from the regional hospital person is that they couldn’t answer her questions because of privacy rules. The privacy of her deceased daughter. This absurdity triggered my serious concern about the competence and integrity of this hospital relative to psychiatric care.

True to form, through its Vice-President, Quality and Patient-Centred Care – an ironic ‘corporate title’ for the executive corresponding with Patty in  this matter – Horizon sent a June 22nd letter to Patty, the salutation referencing ‘”Ms. Patricia Borthwick,’ a clear  signal of a form letter, in which they give this grieving mother a powerfully-arrogant and detailed explanation of the legal reasons they cannot respond to her mother’s questions about her daughter’s violent death.

For one thing, they differentiate between the mother of the deceased young woman and who purportedly qualifies as a “personal representative” of Hillary’s estate with or without a will. Superbly ironic, since the hospital accepted Patty as sufficiently “personal” and sufficiently “representative” to be the source of next-of-kin permission to remove her daughter from life support.

But the organization sees her as too distant to qualify for information that would be otherwise and legally available to some “personal representative.” This legalistic, bureaucratic, fearful (liability concerns, no doubt) and cruel letter merely sustains the tone and demeanour of how the hospital and Horizon have treated this woman and her grieving family.

On March 30, 2021, the Minister of Health said in a letter to Patty that “in light of these tragic events, I have directed the Department of Health staff and the regional health authorities to address crisis care in emergency departments and in communities. Furthermore, I have asked for recommendations within 30 days.”

The Minister also said “I have asked the Executive Director of the Addiction and Mental Health Branch at the Department of Health, Annie Pellerin, to ensure that someone from the Department reaches out to you directly.”  I can tell you, despite the Minister’s promise, Patricia Borthwick heard from no-one.

Therefore, six months after Hillary’s death and several more months of trying to get information about her daughter’s death plus two months after the Minister of Health’s letter to Patty, she received a MAY 21ST letter from Horizon’s Vice-President of Community, Jean Daigle in which she is advised that:

“The following two recommendations were approved by our quality-of-care committee and action plans are being developed for their implementation.” That is, the hospital will:
 

  1. “Investigate procuring ligature resistant door frames, designs or door design for inpatient psychiatry units.”
  2. ”Investigate the establishment of a Crisis Stabilization Unit for increased structure and observation for patients in crisis requiring short-term intervention.”


Horizon Admission and Revelation Justifies Provincial Supervision

This is a revelation: the hospital knows that certain deficiencies likely contributed to Hillary’s death and, to the outside observer, these deficiencies seem so fundamental, so basic to the safety of psychiatric services as to warrant a provincial investigation into Horizon’s capacity to provide such services.  I encourage you, Premier, to consider putting Saint John Regional under supervision,

Further, neither the hospital management nor Horizon should be left to their own devices in carrying out the “investigations” of which Daigle speaks. I would encourage you to oversee these inquiries and to audit the Horizon Health Network ‘s competence and informativeness in managing psychiatric crisis.

Suicide Risk for the Family

It seems entirely plausible that Horizon and the Saint John Regional Hospital management – given the distant and evasive manner in which they have treated Patty Borthwick – is unaware that high on the list of suicide risk factors is losing to suicide a family member or a person close to you. The frustration generated by their behaviour compounds such a risk

Suicide Risk for the Province

As of 2012, as you also know, New Brunswick had the highest ‘per population’ rate of suicides among Canada’s ten provinces and was the 6th worst jurisdiction in the world after Japan, Belgium, Finland, France and Austria. New Brunswick also experiences high rates of domestic violence.

Suicide Prevention: A Priority in New Brunswick?

Under these circumstances, one would presume that suicide prevention and suicidal crisis management would be at the top of the list in all mental health clinics and services in New Brunswick but especially acute care general hospitals which provide side-bar psychiatric care. 

At the very least, I would question whether you can rely on the Saint John Regional Hospital and other Horizon facilities to master these requirements based on this experience and perhaps other incidents of which I have become aware.

The number of suicides in N.B. have topped the national average consistently, nearly 16 deaths per 100,000 persons at its worst, based on data I have seen, thus establishing your otherwise lovely province as a world-scale suicide capital.

And now, years after the province emerged as a leading jurisdiction in suicide incidence, we have a major urban hospital and health management company “investigating” whether the basics of door design and observational capacity are suitable for their psychiatric wing.

This certainly supports the Minister of Health’s directive for a review of emergency psychiatric services. I understand the Minister announced a strategy but, again, no one – zero – reached out to Patty despite the Minister’s promise they would do so.

Therefore, sir, I strongly recommend – and will be making a public statement along these lines -- that you convene an investigation into the policies, practices, training and competencies of the Saint John Regional Hospital in their handling of this particular suicide and the tragic circumstances surrounding it.

I submit, sir, that New Brunswick could lead Canada toward an effective, solid model of suicide prevention. This is not beyond reach. 

A personal note if I may: it would be very nice – thoughtful and welcomed – if you were to call Patricia Borthwick at 506-755-0881. The family would welcome hearing that you are taking steps so that Hillary will not have died in vain, that her death will bring about changes that will save the lives of others.

Meanwhile, Patty has just received the coroner’s report officially advising that her daughter’s death was asphyxiation at her own hand. This is, on one level, a step toward closure. On another, it is the cold re-confirmation that her daughter is never coming home.

Best Regards,

Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon) 

Executive Chairman, Mental Health International

001-905-885-1751

bill.wilkerson@mentalhealthiinternational.ca

Full Text and accompanying News Release

 

​​

----------------------------​-----


Still Relevant


Original First-Ever Business Plan to Defeat Depression, Launched in Toronto and Geneva in Year 2000:


20 Years Ago, Words of Change
CEO-Led Business Plan to Defeat Depression

On July 20, 2000, the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health released the first Business Plan to Defeat Depression in a news conference in Toronto and Geneva. The entire plan is posted on this site.

One of the features of the plan at the time, two decades ago, what the new language used to describe how business should go about promoting mental health in the workplace. Here are examples:



BUSINESS URGED TO HELP ACHIEVE MAJOR SOCIETAL GOALS THROUGH “FLESH AND BLOOD CAPITALISM.”

Tribute in the Globe and Mail to the Late Michael Wilson draws on one of his privately-stated ideas to get business to fight ‘great societal’ questions.

 July 16, 2020 – The Late Michael Wilson was famous as Canada’s Minister of Finance who introduced the GST and was, in the words of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, “the greatest finance minister this country ever had.” Read news release>


---------------------------------------------------------------


April 15, 2020
THE COVID-19 LEGACY: PREPARING FOR GENERATION ONE

” Yours is the first generation that will prevent suicide, stop the spread of the disabling effects of mental disorders and support each other’s mental health and wellbeing openly and naturally, setting aside discrimination and denial of our shared vulnerability. Yours is the first generation that will explicitly imply human love in caring for distressed and disordered minds.” 


Extracted from the 2015 McMaster University Convocation Speech by Bill Wilkerson to a graduating class that lost four of its own to suicide in that same academic year. Their parents were in the audience for his remarks. Bill addressed them directly and based on these remarks, the term ‘Generation One’ is herewith introduced.


-----


We call the children, adolescents and young adults of the 21st Century Generation One -


  • The first generation born into an era foretelling climate change as part of their burden;
  • The first generation exposed to a virus pandemic with mental health a known casualty;
  • The first generation since the Great Depression to face a momentous global economic downturn;
  • The first generation born into an era of new vulnerability: school shootings, street terrorism;
  • The first generation born into the chronic stress of the post-truth world;
  • The first generation to know the iPhone as an appendage not an accessory;


Generation One is graduating into uncertain economic prospects while embracing many social causes in great numbers—equality, climate, same-sex marriage, female empowerment, gender identity and mental health.

Generation One is the first to move into workplaces facing vast change portended by artificial intelligence and Generation One is described by the Economist Magazine as the ‘best educated, best behaved, most stressed and depressed generation than those who came before it.’

After 20 years of awareness-raising, Generation One is growing up at a time when mental health sensitivities, for them, are a given, talked about openly.  Generation One prioritizes emotions and their ‘personal brand,’

On this basis, it will be important for business and economic policymakers to understand what an ‘emotion priority’ means and how the promotion and protection of mental health in an economy that put a premium on cerebral skillsets, noting that Generation One will expect:


  • Mental health care that is accessible, that works and that is attached to every existing acute and medically-specialized health care service;
  • Mental health care delivered in the community by an expanded cohort of professionals and laity trained in the art of active listening (the grand-mother model);
  • Prevention as a global priority, new technologies as tools of prevention and a new language for mental health to reference/infuse as common knowledge links between the body and the brain,


Refer: bill.wilkerson@mentalhealthinternational.ca

 
February 21, 2020

Bill Wilkerson launches unique Cobourg Rotary Club series on mental health called Four Fridays in February. His speech provides broad and, yet, detailed context for discussion and understanding of questions about what mental health is, what mental illness is, what mental illness is not, are those with mental illness prone to violence, are words like “crazy and insane” still used and if so, why?


Read the speech here

Notes for Remarks by Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon),
Executive Chairman, Mental Health International 
Launching The Rotary Club of Cobourg Series
‘FOUR FRIDAYS IN FEBRUARY’
A Conversation on Mental Health
February 7, 2020




December 31, 2019

BILL WILKERSON AND MENTAL HEALTH IN THE INTERNATIONAL WORKPLACE


These are cities in North America, Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East where Bill has taken his workplace mental health message through speeches and business roundtables between 1999-2019.

Canada (many cities multiple times)
Whitehorse, YT
Yellowknife, NT
Victoria, BC
Vancouver, BC
Calgary AB
Edmonton, AB
Regina, SK
Saskatoon, SK
Winnipeg, MB
Thunder Bay, ON
Sudbury, ON
Barrie, ON
Niagara Falls, ON
St. Catharines, ON
Toronto, ON
London, ON
Kitchener, ON
Hamilton, ON
Ottawa, ON
Guelph, ON
Quebec City, QC
Montreal, QC
St. John, NB
Fredericton, NB
Moncton, NB
Halifax, NS
Sydney, NS
Charlottetown, PEI
St. John ‘s Newfoundland

US
Los Angeles, California,
San Francisco, California (x3)
San Diego, California
Seattle, Washington (x2)
Portland, Washington
Las Vegas, Nevada, 
Denver, Colorado
Dallas, Texas,
San Antonio, Texas
St. Louis, Missouri
New Orleans, Louisiana
Chicago, Ill.
Baltimore, Maryland,
Richmond, Virginia
Washington, D.C.  (x4)
New York, N.Y. (x2)
Albany, N.Y.
Providence, Rhode Island
Boston, Mass., (x3)
Atlanta, Georgia (x2)
Orlando, Florida

Europe
Porto, Portugal
Bruges, Portugal
Madrid, Spain
Geneva, Switzerland (x2)
Paris, France,
Frankfurt, Germany
Berlin, Germany
Rome, Italy (x2)
Brussels, Belgium ( x2)
London, England (x3)
Dublin, Ireland
Kristiandsan, Norway
Copenhagen, Denmark (x3)
Athens, Greece (x2)
Thessaloniki, Greece
Rotterdam, Netherlands
 
Santiago, Chile
United Arab Emirates
Dubai
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August 9, 2019
‘OF TWO MINDS – One Human, One Not Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence’


The world is crossing an historic bridge between human and artificial intelligence, bringing together two minds, one human, one not. Can we keep them both healthy? This is unclear.  


But this much is clear. The revolution in artificial intelligence is a vivid and present danger to the livelihood and health of hundreds of millions of working people and their families worldwide, threatening to displace and replace human beings in whole jobs and specific tasks on an unprecedented scale. 


Even the most informed proponents of AI worry about this. According to Dr. Alan Bernstein, CEO, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), “AI will force us to challenge our cherished views of what it means to be human.” 


The World Economic Forum forecasts that individuals in some 375 million jobs will be rotated out of those jobs.  According to consulting giant McKinsey, 60-90% of all jobs now in place will be affected by artificial intelligence.


Unless employers and governments prepare for this revolution by retraining workers, creating replacement jobs that demand distinctly human traits, and forging new education and career models, social unrest and public alienation will intensify in a world already fractured by income inequality. 


Dr. Bernstein, who leads the Pan-Canadian Strategy on AI, sees “AI as such a powerful platform for analyzing data in new ways that its applications will extend into every aspect of our lives.”


If AI feeds human mental unrest, disquiet and disorder, then it will damage society and if it is cloaked in confusion and lack of transparency, then it will de-humanize the environments in which people live and work.

If the sole driving purpose of AI is to displace employees to cut costs, then it will not only cheapen the cost of producing goods and services, it will cheapen our way life.

Generating invasive, job uncertainty, the deep learning of machines could be a super-power of deep stress for human beings if its infusion is careless and unmanaged. Deep stress is at the root of frustration, fear, anger and rumination which predicts depression

Deep, chronic stress can move us toward depression and just as cancer is a malignant growth, depression – in the words of author Lewis Wolpen - is malignant darkness.

It is also the trigger of 90% of suicides, now the leading cause of violent death. Human beings are killing ourselves faster than we are killing other people. Guns kill more Americans through suicide than homicide.

In late 2018, according to the Economist, suicides in the United States skyrocketed by 18% while globally, suicide declined by nearly 29%, saving nearly three million lives.

Across their lifetime, 50% of populations are symptomatic of mental illness and, in any given year, 20% of the population is afflicted.  And these human beings are the faces of the troubled, turbulent times in which the effects of artificial intelligence will be felt.

On a promising note, just as AI may increase the stress-born burden of mental illness, AI apps are being developed to help us better manage depression and anxiety disorders – and even to prevent suicidal risk.

Artificial intelligence is being developed to diagnose and treat schizophrenia more effectively, model psychiatric illness to test new methods of treatment, improve the diagnosis of schizophrenia and improve understanding of autism. 

To improve internal decision-making, the Government of Canada has invested heavily in AI systems for internal use, introducing a ‘Directive on Automated Decision-Making’ and an “algorithmic assessment” to spell out ethical responsibilities for the use of AI,

The inevitable ‘but’ surfaces, though, when we consider time frames. The potentially oppressive nature of artificial intelligence as a source of job loss is imminent while counter measures usually take time.


Therefore, my report on mental health in the era of artificial intelligence calls for the  “human capitalization” of the AI workplace and digital economy to help balance the billion-dollar investments in machines with billion-dollar investments in people to ensure the supremacy of human beings in the AI workplace.


Human capitalization of the AI workplace should start now with the introduction of workplace protocols or standards  - mandated by law, if necessary – to establish the values that will govern entry of AI into the workplace, assess the threats to those values and take steps necessary to neutralize those threats.


On reflection, the ‘human capitalization of AI workplace’ might be stated as the ‘humanization of artificial intelligence in the workplace, this, to eliminate the risks of a troubling ambiguity between the role of people and machines.


In fact, it is clear that the AI revolution is not just a technology event, it is a human event. Surely, it can be leveraged into a positive and transformative, ‘new job’ and ‘new career’ experience for the people who otherwise are written off as short-term pain.


Key to this will be a major transition – from an economy where employees are generally seen as a cost to cut rather than an investment to make. 


The AI era will produce technology that will be deployed to valuate people as financial assets, monetizing the human factor in productive capacity, innovation and competitiveness.


In this context, expenditures by employers on employee retraining, reskilling incumbent workers and supporting mental health and well-being is an investment with a calculable and reasonable return.


Investments in people as a defining asset of the 21st century economy also means fostering employment opportunities that demand uniquely human qualities and a focus AI on taking over specific tasks not whole jobs. 


The AI revolution is now, and a look into the more distant future is also called for. Perhaps, in Canada, through a Royal Commission on the ‘Prospects for Human Dignity, Development and Health in the 21st Century.” Such an endeavor could be far-reaching in complex times.




To request additional information, schedule an interview, or receive copies of media releases and advisories, please contact us.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


THE ESSENTIALS OF MENTAL LIFE


2019-2020
 
Our report, Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence, is the first is a series of discussions about the mental health and well-being of people in the face of serious public issues now confronting the world. First up,  the revolution in artificial intelligence.

From this series, ultimately, we will paint a picture of what the ‘essentials of mental life in the 21st century are and must be. Scrolling down, you will find not only the full report on Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence in PDF that can be downloaded, but a series of extracts recapping the Report.

The report, as a booklet, is being distributed among leaders and organizations in business, science, health care, government and NGOs across North America and Europe.

Comments are welcome. 

bill.wilkerson@mentalhealthinternational.ca



Extracts


  1. Vast and Fast Infusion of Artificial Intelligence is Reservoir of Risk for the mental health and well-being of millions across the world
  2. Super Power of Stress and Skyrocketing Suicide in US
  3. The Promise or Peril of Artificial Intelligence – which will it be?
  4. Human Capitalization of the AI Workplace and Digital Economy (Purpose: Guarantee Human Supremacy)
  5. IBM CEO: ‘prepare employees for artificial intelligence or face social unrest;’ Royal Bank of Canada says 25% of Canadian jobs to be disrupted
  6. The minds of employees now do the heavy lifting for business; recognizing the borders between healthy and unhealthy workplaces.
  7. AI could help produce dramatic new insights into brain function and mental illness
  8. Pan-Canadian Strategy will tackle how artificial intelligence will re-shape society
  9. Revolutionary Framework for the Prevention of Mental Illness
  10. Closing in on Clearer Understanding of What Mental Disorders Are
  11. The brain and the body are one; mental illness can have profound physical implications
  12. Conclusions


-----


July 25, 2019


The Real World Forces Causing Mental Illness


Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon) Executive Chairman, Mental Health International,
Industry Professor, International Mental Health, McMaster University


Efforts to create greater public understanding and acceptance of mental illness as a ‘natural’ part of the human experience have had some success in recent years.

But, still, the results are incomplete. This, for several reasons.

For one thing, allied sciences investigating internal/external causes of mental disorders have yet to produce an unambiguous, public-consumable statement as to what science knows as to what these invasive conditions are – and are not.

Over the past number of years, my job as a mental health advocate has been, among other things, to ‘translate’ what I come upon in various research reports and studies that I read on behalf of the people I claim to serve in my self-appointed mission.

Our report – Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence – is part of that process. As lay people, we can now make several deductions based on what science has reported.

Genes play an important role in the development and onset of mental illness but not without the influence and impact of the environments we are born into and in which we live, work, and co-relate with others.

The simple equation is this:  gene + environment is the dynamic that produces the risk and the symptoms of mental illness. 

The branch of science where this equation stems from is called ‘epigenetics’ – but, funny-enough, researchers are not always clear what they mean about ‘environment.’

Some refer to environment as the period prior to birth. Some refer to natural environments – air, land, water – despoiled  by pollution, a reference not necessarily relating to mental disease but to disease more generally, respiratory being one.

Generally, though, it is fair to say that the environment is an active ingredient in shaping our vulnerabilities and all human beings are vulnerable to the gene + environment dynamic but not all of us are made ill by it. Notably, however, the G + E equation embodies the human factor.

Mental illness has physical properties and physical origins in brain cells, it can be triggered by physical trauma, abuse, deprivation, isolation and other experiences, some gradual, a lifetime in the making, others sharp, pointed factors.

This means how we treat each other contributes to the development and onset of mental illness.  How we treat ourselves is also a factor including, very significantly, diet. 

In our report on Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence, and the supporting summaries, we cite this finding: the human brain never functions without reference to the environment outside.

In effect, therefore, the seeds of mental illness are sown in our genetic selves combined the environments and experiences we inherit, create and go through. In effect, the accumulative effect of human affairs one unto the other. 
 


bill.wilkerson@mentalhealthinternational.ca


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Question:  MENTAL ILLNESS IS WHAT?


Bill Wilkerson, Executive Chairman, Mental Health International, believes the nomenclature of mental health contributes to public misunderstanding of what mental illness is.

 His answer to the question above was reviewed by Dr. Bruce Cuthbert, U.S. National Institute for Mental Health and Dr. Roger McIntyre, University Health Network, University of Toronto 

Answer:  MENTAL ILLNESS IS biological unrest in a person’s brain that upsets the brain’s machinery for thinking, feeling and perceiving.  Brain circuits are working improperly. Mental Illness has physical properties and physical effects. 

Mental illness is caused in some combination by what we’re born with (our genes) and what we experience in birth and in life, what we might call our collisions with life. In that light, mental illness is more like an injury.

Mental illness can be both inherited and experienced. In either case, mental illness is involuntary, uninvited, unwanted, is not a form of personal weakness and is not the fault of those who suffer.

The Canadian Armed Forces describe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as ‘operational stress injury” and have dropped the word ‘disorder’ altogether.

In remarks to Canadian war veterans and their families, I described PTS(D) as a “the normal brain’s response to an abnormal event … like a severe concussion from the inside out.”  Getting accidentally hit on the head is not your fault, neither is mental illness.   


----------


OF TWO MINDS - One Human, One Not
Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence
JUNE, 2019


The world is crossing an historic bridge spanning human and artificial intelligence and the result is a meeting of two minds – one human, one not. Can we keep both healthy? That is unclear.

By Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon), Executive Chairman, Mental Health International and
Industry Professor, International Mental Health, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada  


Read Here and/or Download PDF


Artificial intelligence could have damaging effects on our mental health

BILL WILKERSON
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED MAY 26, 2019




In 2015, MHI and Lundbeck Canada partnered with Post Media to produce a 10-month, national advertising campaign building the case for an International Business-Science Partnership for Brain Health in a  Brain Economy. The campaign attracted significant interest, especially online, and we invite readers to have a look at the campaign  by visiting  http://business.financialpost.com/category/brain-health or clicking the Brain Health link below.


BRAIN HEALTH

Business and science hold the key to unlocking the door to brain health in a brain economy.

The goal of an International Business-Science Partnership for Brain Health is to hasten the transfer of vital brain discoveries into vital clinical benefits for everyday people, thus changing the world’s experience with brain-based mental disorders over the next 10 years.
Visit the Financial Post website for articles and resources.


Can International Business and Science Unite to Advance Global Mental Health in a Global Brain Economy?
Embassy of Canada to the United States of America
October 6, 2016


Global Mental Health: A Powerful Investment in the Economies and Peoples of the World
In 2007, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Wilson, the country’s onetime Minister of Finance and an international business leader, said major issues such as “energy, security and trade demand international solutions and I absolutely include mental health in that.”​
By Eliot Sorel, MD, Senior Scholar in Healthcare Innovation and Policy Research, Clinical Professor of Global Health, Health Policy & Management, and of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
And
Bill Wilkerson, L.L. D. (Hon),  Founding Fellow, Institute for Mental Health, University of British Columbia, Chairman, Mental Health International, London, England and Port Hope, Canada

July 12, 2016

Breaking Through: Advertising Campaign Attracted Millions of Readers in Promoting Brain Health in a Brain Economy 

In March, 2013, the 5th US/Canada Forum for Mental Health and Productivity convened by Mental Health International at the prestigious Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto produced a powerful consensus among leaders in science and business that steps are called for to accelerate the translation of brain knowledge into improved treatments for brain-based mental disorders.

Read More >


The Woodstock Tragedies
RE-RELEASE OF MENTAL HEALTH INTERNATIONAL
Guidelines for Working Parents To Protect Their Children Against The Risks of Suicide June 8, 2016
In light of the tragic events in Oxford County and the remarkable protest by high school students in Woodstock, MHI is re-issuing its suicide prevention Guidelines for Working Parents. This paper was originally released by Bill Wilkerson as Co-Founder of Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health. It has been updated and is being re-released given the continued urgency of this subject as reflected in the Woodstock tragedies. Read More >

June 8, 2016


BILL’S NOTE TO BUSINESS
KPMG REPORT DE-MYSTIFIES MENTAL HEALTH CARE SHORTAGE
‘Chaotic global Goals and metrics’ among factors driving incentive and structural misalignments that severely limit global mental health care. The elite global consulting firm, KPMG, has produced a report with the World Economic Forum that is one of the most telling assessments of the underlying reasons behind the lack of adequate care for those living with mental disorders.
By Bill Wilkerson, Executive Chairman, Mental Health International

Published on: June 6, 2016


A New Mental Health Plan Could be 'Turning Point' in PS Renewal
The federal government is poised to unveil a new mental health strategy that could be the “turning point” for an employer once dubbed the “worst of the worst” for its high level of chronic stress and depression among Canada’s public servants, said a leading mental health advocate.
Bill Wilkerson, chair of Mental Health International who is leading a pan-European campaign on depression, said a successful plan would change the way executives lead, managers manage and employees work, eliminating the stress that infected the public service like a “super bug” over the past decade.
By Kathryn May, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: May 31, 2016​​


Seven Steps Guide Towards a Mentally Healthy Organisation
World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Mental Health ‘Seven Steps Guide towards a Mentally Healthy Organisation’ 
​April 19, 2016


CivicAction Mental Health Initiative, Comment by Bill Wilkerson
Executive Chairman, Mental Health International 
April 18, 2016


​Brain Capital for a Brain Economy
A call for a business-science partnership. 
Bill Wilkerson Executive Chairman, Mental Health International 
Download the PDF presentation.
March 29, 2016


New Overview of The TARGET campaign in Europe. (PDF)
www.targetdepression.com
February 18, 2016


Old News, New Again
HR Report story says depression and anxiety top the list of reasons people see their doctor.
Bill Wilkerson
February 18, 2016


Employers Must Address Emotional Trauma In The Workplace
In the wake of recent tragic events in Paris, employers must remain alert and responsive to the potential "emotional aftermath" of terrorist attacks among employees. Such events can cause considerable potential trauma and anxiety for workers, and employers have a responsibility to ensure that the workplace remains a venue of safety, security and open discourse.​ Read More >​
by Bill Wilkerson, Huffington Post
November 30, 2015


Why workers need support after traumatic events: Paris attacks highlight need for help
​In light of the recent events in Paris, Mental Health International released guidelines on how employers can help workers manage emotional trauma when there is a perceived threat to public safety. Bill Wilkerson, chair of the non-profit, received an honorary degree and delivered a convocation address for McMaster University Friday morning. Read More >​​​
by Natalie Paddon,  Hamilton Spectator, Nov 21, 2015


Life Will Go On, But This Is Not Business as Usual
Employers Urged to Take Seven Specific Steps to Help Employees Content With the "Emotional Aftermath" of France's 9/11.
London, England and Toronto, Canada
The chairman of a business-led workplace mental health campaign in Europe today counseled employers to be alert and responsive to the 'emotional aftermath' of the Paris attacks among their employees.
Bill Wilkerson, a Canadian who chairs the European Business Leadership Forum for Workplace Mental Health, and a European employer campaign called Target Depression in the Workplace this morning set out a seven-point guideline for employers in the wake of these traumatic events. 

Monday, November 16, 2015 Read more >


Key Messages of Bill Wilkerson’s European Meetings and Speech Tour
Prior to the 2nd annual Business Leadership Forum in Rotterdam on November 12th, hosted by Unilever, Target chairman Bill Wilkerson, this spring and fall, is visiting six European centres to recruit interest in the Target campaign. 
October 19, 2015
  Read more >


Bill Wilkerson Hits the Road
Begins 6-city, 6-country speaking tour in Europe and US September - November
Since 2013, this Canadian has taken his pitch to employers for support of mental health to Dubai and 11 European capitals. 
September 24, 2015  Read Press Release >


________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Mental Health International - This Website is a Free Public Resource
Introducing The Library of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health
Special Link To The European Business Leadership Forum To Target The Impact of Depression in the Workplace
​’THE TARGET CAMPAIGN'
Bill Wilkerson, Chairman
The  non-profit company we call Mental Health International (MHI) was founded in 2013 by my colleague, Joseph Ricciuti and myself. This website contains strategies and analyses we have produced as we work across borders in North America and Europe.   

This site is a resource for anyone with an interest in issues relating to business, the economy and brain health and specifically those brain-based, body-wide conditions labelled as mental disorders. This site, therefore, is not designed for interaction. It is a free resource.    

​Further, this site contains current/contemporary information but also the Official Library of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health founded in 1998 and  closed in 2011. Mental Health International is the Roundtable’s successor and the Library provides volumes of information, while dated, is still relevant to the cause.    

​It should be understood that MHI - like the Roundtable - is not a large organization with lots of staff. It is the mirror opposite of that. So I will continue to respond as best I can to inquiries and requests, but be assured, my effort in this regard will be imperfect.   

​As to the design of this site, we have abandoned completely all the standard headings and segment titles that web sites use today so visitors will understand this is a resource and not an interactive site. 

Meanwhile, I can be reached at bill.wilkerson@mentalhealthinternational.ca - 905-885-1751. That said, given my European  work and other matters, my availability is simply more limited than before.

Bill Wilkerson
Executive Chairman,Mental Health International 



​​​​A Conflicting Picture
The “pipeline of new medicines” to treat brain disorders and injuries is at risk of drying up. At the same time, brain research itself appears to be “closing in” on the causes of brain-based mental disorders and national brain projects are occurring in many parts of the world.

Mental Health International - with the support of top business and scientific people - has proposed an International Business + Science Partnership for Brain Health in a Brain Economy to support a ten-point plan to accelerate the transfer of brain science into improved clinical care published by Nature Magazine and penned by the International College of Neuropharmacology (CINP).

To set out the “span of interest” and purposes of such a partnership for Canadian business leaders, MHI has launched a 10-month advertising campaign in Post Media newspapers across Canada, and on-line, in partnership with Lundbeck Canada, part of a global pharmaceutical research and development network specializing in the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders.


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