Monday, February 25, 2008

Why I could never be a paid journalist: editors

I kinda like being the one who decides whether my thoughts get published or not, rather than depending upon the whim of an editor. Still, there are times when a letter to a publication is merited, if only to reach some of the same audience that read the original piece - in this case an editorial on mental health in the CF that missed the point.

Unfortunately, while the Ottawa Citizen called me about this one, they didn't see fit to put it in print. So this goes out to our not insubstantial Ottawa readership:

I found your editorial entitled "Invisible Injuries" somewhat disappointing, as it leaves the reader with the impression that Canadian soldiers are less likely than any other Canadian citizen to seek help for mental disorders and problems. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, this simply isn't the case: "One in five people in Canada has a mental health problem at some point in life. But only about 30 per cent seek help." This ratio is almost identical to the one-third of CF members in the quoted study who sought help for their own issues.

The stigma of admitting a mental health issue and the reluctance to seek professional treatment are neither unique to the CF, nor even worse in the CF, if these numbers are accurate. This is a societal problem, not one of military culture.

Having been personally and gravely touched by mental health issues in the CF on more than one occasion, I applaud efforts to draw attention to mental health challenges among our uniformed service members, and the systemic changes required to properly care for them. But I don't believe the average Canadian needs to be misled in order to achieve that goal.

More than one way to skin a cat, and all that.


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