Romeo Dallaire teams up with Montreal mental-health hospital to raise funds, awareness

Former Senator and Lieutenant-General of the Canadian Armed Forces, Romeo Dallaire, is launching the Building Hope movement with the Douglas Foundation in Montreal to raise awareness among Canadians of the mental health issues caused by the COVID pandemic- 19.

Dallaire is encouraging residents to support the movement for people with mental health problems and to support the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal, the second largest centre for research and care in mental health in Canada.

In a Friday news release, the former soldier said that the problems caused by the pandemic require resources to ensure the mental health of the population in the future. According to Dalaire, Canada is at war against an invisible threat that should not be underestimated as much for its consequences on public health as the psychological distress it causes.

Dallaire, who is 73 years old, himself suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

During his 36-year military career, he was notably Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations Mission for Assistance to Rwanda during the civil war and genocide in 1993-1994. He later wrote “Shake Hands With the Devil”, a book on the civil war and genocide in the African country.

He was also a member of the Canadian Senate from 2005 to 2014.

By initiating Building Hope, ex-Lieutenant-General Dallaire says he believes in the expertise and know-how of the Douglas to treat those who suffer because of COVID-19. To help it achieve this, the movement is hoping to raise $100,000.

The funds raised will be used to support families affected by mental health problems, improve treatment and access to services, educate the population and break the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The Douglas Foundation reports that less than 4 per cent of medical research funding goes to researching mental illness, although the number of Canadians who will be diagnosed with mental illness in their lifetime is 20 per cent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2020.

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