New polling looks at realities of mental health and substance use workforce
For Dr. Mary Bartram, policy director at the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), gaining a better understanding of the realities of those who work in the field of mental health and substance use (MHSU) is key to unlocking improved mental health outcomes.
“For far too long, data about these essential care providers hasn’t been collected,” explained Bartram. “As we are bracing for an echo mental health pandemic, we have to understand the hidden workforce called upon to address it.”
Bartram noted that, while detailed data is regularly gathered about doctors and nurses, we only have a cursory understanding about psychologists and social workers and know almost nothing about all the other kinds of MHSU workers — from psychotherapists to addiction counsellors.
“Responding to the increased MHSU issues we are seeing as a result of the pandemic means knowing exactly what tools we have at our disposal,” said Bartram. “Yet we don’t know where this workforce works, how many hours of service its workers provide, which populations they serve, or what areas of expertise they have.” This lack of knowledge is concerning, given these workers’ unique position in responding to these emerging needs during the pandemic.