Mental Illness Week: Read the best Global News coverage

View of the new CAMH buildings photographed from the Great Hall. Charla Jones/Globe and Mail

We’re in the midst of Canada’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, designed to draw attention to diseases of the brain too often ignored or dismissed in comparison with more visible, better-understood physical maladies.

Here’s some of’s hard-hitting, news-making coverage, highlighting mental illness in Canada’s military and its prisons, among youth and first responders, in discussion with parliamentarians and police.

Invisible Wounds: Crisis in Canada’s Military

Soldiers who served this country too often come home with psychic wounds that go unacknowledged or untreated – with often deadly results.

Death Behind Bars

Canada’s sickest inmates are locked in its deadliest prisons – why?

Six months, 23 first responder suicides – what are we doing to help?

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Canada’s first responders are still trying to combat stoical stereotypes to get the treatment they need.

Less money to help veterans, more to remember them

As Canada spends more on wartime commemoration, it’s spending less treating hurt veterans.

Alone with their thoughts: Why do we put sick people in solitary?

There’s ample evidence showing solitary confinement makes mental illness worse. So why do we keep locking sick inmates in segregation?

Kinew James, interviewed in self-harm prison investigation, demanded to be named

She died at 35 from an apparent heart attack, after spending nearly half her life behind bars. And a prison advocate who knew her well says Kinew James didn’t need to die.

Get mentally ill out of prison and into hospital: Watchdog

Canada’s prison watchdog wants the Conservative government to commit to moving severely mentally-ill inmates out of prisons and into secure psychiatric hospitals run by the provinces and territories.

Family of dead inmate sues Corrections Canada for $10-million

The family of an inmate who died after repeatedly cutting himself in prison is taking the Correctional Service of Canada to court, as the system grapples with mentally-ill prisoners and a huge increase in self-harm behind bars.

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Not Criminally responsible: Conservatives table new crime data

After Global News revealed the Tories were making their case using incorrect information, they were forced to resubmit more accurate data that failed to back up their bill.

Not criminally responsible: Opponents prepare to implement crime bill under fire for lack of evidence

Even the data cited by the federal Conservatives shows their NCR bill tackles a nonexistent problem and could exacerbate an existing crisis. But we’re implementing it anyway.

Justice Minister prepared to go to court over not criminally responsible law

Justice Minister Peter MacKay says he is prepared to go to court over changes to the way Canada treats its most mentally ill offenders.

Canada’s prison system ‘ill-equipped’ to handle women inmates with mental illness years after Ashley Smith’s death

Six years after teenage inmate Ashley Smith killed herself in a prison cell, Canada’s correctional system still struggles to manage mentally ill female offenders who chronically hurt themselves, says a new report from the country’s prison watchdog.

Should we be hiring more compassionate cops?

The head of Toronto’s Police Services Board tells Global News he wants to hire police with a better understanding of mental illness.

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Toronto police, hospitals to expand crisis intervention program

Just over nine months since Sammy Yatim was shot to death by police on an empty streetcar, police and hospital staff announced the expansion of Toronto’s Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) program to cover all areas of the city.

‘Psychiatrists in blue’: How police forces deal with people in crisis

Police officers are increasingly on the front lines of mental health in Canada. Each service determines its own intervention models. These are the most common.

Hooked: Canada’s pill-popping problem

Canadians pop more pills per capita than just about any country in the world – and that opioid abuse and misuse is taking its toll.

Some mentally ill inmates face solitary confinement under another name

Special designations for federal inmates with the most complex psychiatric needs often result in their being kept in what is, effectively, solitary confinement – just don’t call it that.

Canada’s failing to prevent inmate suicides, watchdog finds

Canada’s federal prisons are continuing practices known to make inmates more likely to kill themselves – and then failing to properly measure or report these suicides, a watchdog report finds.

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Crown fights to designate mentally ill, suicidal inmate dangerous offender

When Judge Sheila Whelan shot down an attempt to designate Marlene Carter a dangerous offender, she said the public would be “shocked” by the way Carter, an inmate with a history of abuse and severe mental illness, was treated in prison.

Now the Crown is appealing that decision, arguing that to protect the public Carter must be incarcerated indefinitely.

Why make soldiers choose between their pensions and their mental health?

For members of Canada’s military, the choice to come forward about mental illness can be agonizing: Anyone deemed “unfit to serve” – due to mental illness, for example, if the Defence Department contends the illness’s roots predate military service – before having completed the minimum 10 years of service loses his or her pension.

Magnotta trial: Not criminally responsible myths, debunked

Sandy Simpson is chief of forensic psychiatry at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. He emphasized he can’t address the Magnotta case itself, but spoke with Global News about what an NCR designation means – and doesn’t mean.

Don’t want cops to be ‘psychiatrists in blue’? Fund mental health services

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Toronto’s mental health services need more money to keep police from becoming the  “default mental health system” for people in psychiatric distress, according to one expert.

Seven common suicide myths

It’s preventable, its causes are treatable, and responsible reporting is vital – not verboten.

Tell us your story: Do you, or does someone you love, have a personal experience with mental illness you want to share? We’d love to hear it.

Note: Unless you tell us otherwise we may publish what you send us in this or subsequent stories.

If you are, or someone you know is, in crisis and needs help, visit for a list of resources. In case of an emergency, please call 911.


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