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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Canadian Mental Illness Awareness Week

Start Date

Brief Description
Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness. The week was established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and is now coordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) in cooperation with all its member organizations and many other supporters across Canada.

Campaign elements include a grassroots public education initiative, a nationally distributed poster and bookmark series, the Annual Champions of Mental Health Awards luncheon in Ottawa, and an education initiative with federal members of parliament, both in their home ridings and on Parliament Hill. This year, MIAW takes place from October 4–10, 2009.

Too few Canadians know about the burden of mental illness on our society, and too few sufferers seek help when they need it. Nearly one in five Canadians is affected by mental illness, yet a persistent stigma prevents millions from getting the help they need.

MIAW seeks to raise awareness of the level of mental illness in Canada, to reduce negative stigma about mental illness amongst the general population and health care professionals, and to promote the positive effects of best practice in prevention, diagnosis, and medical treatment.

Over the past 6 years, MIAW has grown exponentially from a small, yet powerful grassroots initiative into a truly national public awareness campaign. Through MIAW, hundreds of untold stories have been shared, thousands of stakeholders have been engaged, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised, and millions of Canadians have been reached.

Last year, contributions from dozens of stakeholders, sponsors, corporate leaders, and the courageous faces of mental illness allowed MIAW to have a record-breaking year. The campaign, through a variety of media, delivered messages of hope, compassion, leadership, and recovery to millions of Canadians through over 53 million impressions.

For further information on MIAW contact the MIAW project manager, Emily Polak at 613-688-6667 or via email at


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