The Mental Health Commission of Canada estimates that in any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental health problem or illness. But the lack of government attention, combined with other factors like stigma, has isolated patients with mental illness, and only one-third of those who need mental health services in Canada actually receive them.
Six strategic directions have been identified in the Mental Health Strategy for Canada prepared by the Mental Health Commission of Canada through wide consultations, from the need for leadership and greater collaboration, to better promotion of mental health, to fostering recovery, ensuring access and reducing disparities to treatment, and working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to address their mental health needs. The federal government should lead collaborative efforts to implement the strategy and take leadership in the areas under its jurisdiction.
Mental health and addictions services are currently fragmented across the country and many Canadians do not receive appropriate treatment as a result. Mental health services and addiction treatment are vastly under-funded in relation to their prevalence and impact on our quality of life. The federal government should work with all levels of government to ensure the right combination of services, treatments, and support are there when and where people need them. Targeted investments should focus on increasing services and timely access.
In the wake of an alarming number of suicides by members of the Canadian Forces, on January 30th, 2014, the NDP asked the House of Commons to increase investment in mental health services for Canadian Forces members and prioritize outstanding military suicide inquiries. These efforts were defeated by the Conservatives.
Programs developed with communities are the most effective. The federal government should share best practices and ensure successful models like mobile community support teams and expanded ‘Housing First’ programs receive the long term and stable support they need.
More resources and commitment must be given to the unique challenges facing Aboriginal communities. In particular, culturally sensitive programs should be a priority for all levels of government, both on and off reserve.
Mental health should be promoted in the workplace, schools, and homes. The federal government should call for continue support for anti-stigma efforts across In the wake of an alarming number of suicides by members of the Canadian Forces, on January 30th, 2014, the NDP asked the House of Commons to increase investment in mental health services for Canadian Forces members and prioritize outstanding military suicide inquiries. These efforts were defeated by the Conservatives. 18 Health care: Now is the time Canada. As one of the country’s largest employers, the federal government should also be a leader in workplace health and safety, and ensure the highest workplace standards for mental health.
Family members can experience chronic financial, physical, and emotional stress when caring for a loved one. Helping caregivers provides significant benefits, both for the individual families and the health care system. Comprehensive mental health services should ensure targeted financial support and respite care that recognizes the needs and role of caregivers.
Example: The costs of mental illness
The economic cost of mental health in Canada is at least $50 billion in lost productivity per year (MHCC 2013).