Canadians have a reputation for generosity, but they need to be careful that generosity doesn’t fade in the future.
That was the message from Saskatchewan’s Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield, who spoke to a capacity crowd of over 150 people at the 10th annual Mayor’s Luncheon on Tuesday.
Schofield, whose grandfather helped build the legislative building, said older generations helped others because they had to in order to survive. However, it’s easier for people to become complacent as they become more independent, and that’s something she wants young generations to avoid.
“Canadians have a reputation for generosity, but it’s not an attitude we can afford to take for granted,” she said. “Our parents and grandparents understood the importance of giving and donating time, but do the younger generations?”
The presence of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) helped put the Lieutenant Governor’s appeal into perspective. The CMHA’s Swift Current branch uses the luncheon as a chance to raise awareness about mental illness. As honourary patron of Wounded Warriors, it’s a subject that’s close to her heart.
“As you know there is still a stigma attached to mental illness and that often prevents people from getting help, but everyone needs to know that they’re not alone.”
Mayor Jerrod Schafer also offered some remarks, and like Schofield, noted how it can be difficult for those suffering from mental illnesses to simply ask for help.
“Whether it is the fear of asking for help, or simply not knowing how much help is available, it only amplifies the great work that the Swift Current Branch, and the Canadian Mental Health Association as a whole is doing to break down barriers and educate the public,” he said in his opening remarks.
According to a Stats Canada report based on findings from 2012, 17 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older reported having a need for mental health care. Of those 17 per cent who needed help, 12 per cent say they didn’t get any and 21 per cent said they got some help, but not enough.
“The campaign against stigma, there’s a lot of work to do on that yet,” CMHA executive director Ruth Smith said. “In Swift Current I think we do really well.”
“I think we have a good start, but more work needs to be done,” event organizer and CMHA member Sarah Laybourne agreed. “Breaking down the stigma, that’s something that we’re constantly striving for and working on.”
In light of their concerns about those problems, both Smith and Laybourne said they were pleased with how seriously everyone took the association’s concerns.
“It’s great to have a room full of people supporting our organization and the good work that we do,” Laybourne said, while noting how happy they were to have the Lieutenant Governor speak.
“It’s as important as any other illness and less talked about and more prevalent,” Smith said. “So many people we know have it.”
It’s that last quote that causes the Lieutenant Governor some concern. During her speech she noted how some people are easily overwhelmed by the tremendous need exhibited by a certain cause.
However, in an interview after the luncheon, she did say Swift Current was heading in the right direction.
“It seems that with organizations like this and the Salvation Army, and several other organizations that you have here in your community, that you’re really working towards helping the folks that you have here, (towards) building centres, and trying to do things to make life a little easier.”