Brain Awareness Week is an opportunity to highlight the importance of protecting and strengthening our body’s most critical organ while raising awareness to the progress made on brain research.
Just like physical activity for your body, it’s important to exercise your brain to keep it healthy. You can keep your brain thriving by reading about something new, doing crosswords, drawing, solving puzzles, and having regular social interactions.
As our population ages, the number of Canadians affected by dementia is expected to increase to nearly 1 million people by 2030. While genetics may increase the risk of dementia, most cases aren’t inherited. The 2020 report from the Lancet Commission estimates that 12 modifiable risk factors could explain 40% of cases of dementia worldwide. Taking action to reduce these modifiable dementia risk factors, including by being physically active, eating and sleeping better, and limiting alcohol consumption are important ways to support brain health.
Preventing head injuries is also crucial for our overall brain health. Concussions can happen to anyone, anywhere at any time, and the most common factors include falls, collisions, and sports and recreational activities. By reducing the risk of getting a concussion, you can avoid potential serious health consequences. The proper use of safety equipment, such as seatbelts, car seats and helmets, can help prevent or reduce the severity of a head injury.
There is currently no objective medical test that can diagnose concussions. Last July, the Government of Canada invited innovators to propose solutions for concussion detection. We evaluated 33 proposals from innovators across the country and three finalists will soon receive $150,000 to fully implement their ideas. Next year, one grand prize winner could receive up to $1 million for their work in helping us better detect concussions.
The Government of Canada has also invested over $46 million over the last five years through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in research and initiatives to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of traumatic brain injuries, including concussions.
Through the work of institutes such as the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction and initiatives under the national strategy on dementia, the Government supports knowledge creation in brain health throughout all stages of life, from pediatric concussion, to the aging brain, and neurodegenerative disease. Further, research on the impact of sex and gender on brain health during aging is currently being carried out to understand why more women than men are diagnosed with Alzheimer disease and to explore potential ways of reducing risk.
The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the mental health and well-being of everyone in Canada – because there is no health without mental health. We all have a unique opportunity to shape a future in which all Canadians have the mental health literacy needed to take better care of ourselves and our communities. We can achieve this by listening without judgement when someone reaches out, engaging in more conversations about mental illness and other conditions, like dementia, to counter stigma, and learning how to support others. Visit mentalhealthliteracy.org to enrich your own understanding of mental health, mental illness and how our brains function.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health or substance use, the Wellness Together Canada portal (WTC) offers 24/7, confidential access to free mental health and substance use supports, including access to sessions with social workers, psychologists and other professionals. WTC offers services in both official languages, and phone-counselling sessions are available in 200 languages and dialects through instantaneous interpretation. PocketWell, a free companion app to WTC, is also available and includes a self-assessment tool and tracker that monitors mood and mental well-being.
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.
Please Visit Our Sponsors