Mental Health Day

CynthiaPhotoOctober 10th is World Mental Health day, a day when educators, providers and care recipients around the world focus attention on mental illness and its huge impact on our personal and professional lives. Mental illness may directly or indirectly affect all Canadians through a family member, friend or colleague. The Mental Health Commission of Canada reported that in 2011 alone, $42.3 billion was spent on treating, caring for, and providing support services for those with mental health problems and illnesses (Mental Health Commission of Canada, n.d.).

As a mental health/psychiatric nurse myself, I believe it is important for nursing education to play a role in increasing public awareness of these issues and in improving services for individuals, families, and communities affected by mental health problems and mental illness.

How do we as educators have a positive impact on the mental health of Canadians? To help support mental health content within undergraduate nursing curriculum, CASN is partnering with the Canadian Federation of Mental Health Nurses (CFMHN) and RNAO to develop entry-to-practice competencies for new Registered Nurses in the area of Mental Health nursing. These will be guided by the Canadian Standards for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing developed by CFMHN. A committee is underway and competencies should be available for schools of nursing in summer 2015. The Standards can be found at

Ensuring new registered nurses are well prepared to provide good care to those affected by mental health problems and mental illness is critical. Given the prevalence of mental illness and addiction in Canada, and given the lack of health services in this area, do, in nursing education, we need to be providing more educational emphasis to this area of health care. Looking ahead, should we be going further? I ask whether nursing education in Canada should be developing graduate programs to equip a cadre of advanced practice nurses across the country with the knowledge, and skills to specifically focus their services in this area of care?

Tweet your ideas or leave a comment on the CASN Facebook page using #MentalHealth.

Cynthia Baker, RN, PhD.
Executive Director, CASN

Mental Health Commission of Canada. (n.d.). Why investing in mental health will contribute to Canada’s economic prosperity and to the sustainability of our health care system. Retrieved from