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Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada

Changing Directions, Changing Lives, released in May 2012, is the first mental health strategy for Canada. It aims to help improve the mental health and well-being of all people living in Canada, and to create a mental health system that can truly meet the needs of people living with mental health problems and illnesses and their families.  

A blueprint for change
Mental health concerns us all. Mother, father, neighbour, friend – one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness every year, with a cost of well over $50 billion to our economy. And many people either don’t seek or can’t get the services and supports they need to recover a meaningful life. 

The Strategy draws on the experience, knowledge and wisdom of thousands of people across the country, and provides an opportunity for everyone’s efforts – large and small – to help bring about change.

Transforming Canada’s mental health system
A first phase of work was completed in 2009 with the release of Toward Recovery and Well-Being: A Framework for a Mental Health Strategy for Canada, which put forward a vision and broad goals for transforming the mental health system.

The Strategy translates this vision into 26 priorities and 109 recommendations for action, grouped under the following 6 Strategic Directions:

  1. Promote mental health across the lifespan in homes, schools, and workplaces, and prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible.
  2. Foster recovery and well-being for people of all ages living with mental health problems and illnesses, and uphold their rights.
  3. Provide access to the right combination of services, treatments and supports, when and where people need them.
  4. Reduce disparities in risk factors and access to mental health services, and strengthen the response to the needs of diverse communities and Northerners.
  5. Work with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis to address their mental health needs, acknowledging their distinct circumstances, rights and cultures.
  6. Mobilize leadership, improve knowledge, and foster collaboration at all levels.

To see a summary of our internal review of the Strategy as well as Health Canada’s evaluation, click here

Join the conversation: #MHCCstrategy

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