Even though people more and more know and recognize the symptoms and consequences of mental illness, they don’t always know how to handle the illness or how to support the affected person. Information, prevention and awareness campaigns have contributed significantly to the understanding of mental illness among the public. Despite this, taboos about the illnesses and stigma surroundingt those affected are still prevalent. More people speaking openly and publicly about their mental illness or about that of a loved one, is, according to the Foundation, the most effective communication tool in the fight to diminish without trivializing one of the most persistent stigmas of modern times.
The Foundation tries to reach people "where they are," because it is convinced that this is the best way to build a safety net for people with mental illness and those close to them.
The Mental Illness Foundation has three main objectives: to inform the public about mental illness through outreach programs, to reduce people’s suffering, and to mobilize them and the society around them to fight the consequences of mental illness.
Inform the public and reduce suffering through a mental illness awareness program
The Foundation pursues its goal of preventing mental illness through its Partners for Life program. The Foundation believes that a better understanding of mental illness can contribute to early detection to reduce human suffering and the resulting social and economic costs.
The Mental Illness Foundation wishes above all to provide information on mental illnesses to circumvent taboos by directly and simply talking about them, to encourage people to talk, but also to inform the public that, once diagnosed, these illnesses are treatable. Knowledge allows choices, ignorance does not. The Foundation’s underlying notion of choice empowers individuals in their approach. In fact, knowledge also implies action when needed.
Mental illness does not only affect the person who has it. It also has an impact on economic and social development, making it also a societal problem. The Foundation informs and educates the public and the media to demystify the illness and offer possible solutions. It also supports research in the hope that a better understanding of mental illness will contribute to better treatment for people.
To better inform the public about mental illnesses and break down taboos, which are unfortunately too numerous, the Foundation has established many information tools: public lectures, pamphlets on various mental illnesses, newsletters, etc. These tools are available from the website or in printed format, at minimal costs.
The Foundation also participates in mental health conferences and seminars to share its expertise in the field of prevention and early detection of mental illness.
The Foundation has also orchestrated major campaigns to raise awareness of mental illness to better understand what a person eperiences and change the perceptions of these individuals and their families.
Logo and Signature
Our logo, an oyster with a pearl within, symbolizes a person with mental illness opening up to reveal their inner beauty. The Mental Illness Foundation chose this symbol to emphasize how important it is for those affected to come out of their isolation to lessen their suffering. Like a pearl, it is in opening up one’s shell that torments can be released. It is also the first step towards acceptance, treatment and recovery.
Our signature, “Opening up surely helps,” aims, first of all, to show that those affected need to open up to others so they don’t remain isolated in their illness and so that they can get the help they need. It also points to the importance of friends and family remaining open minded, so as to better understand the affected person and not judge them.
One of the Mental Illness Foundation’s most significant achievements is the Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin, an autonomous organization with fifty researchers, some thirty research assistants and over 280 trainees is different disciplines. We are dedicated to developing knowledge and the development of treatments for various mental illnesses.
Today, the Foundation focuses its research funding on studies related to its programs. It also awards scholarships to university students such as the scholarship awarded to the student who finished first in the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) competition, as well as post-doctoral fellowships granted to eminent researchers such as Dr. Odette Bernazzani of Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital to pursue postdoctoral studies on depression in women.
These studies enable the Foundation to better understand mental illness problems, to establish priorities in its work, and to provide services that best meet specific needs.