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The Mental Health Strategy for Canada: A Youth Perspective

Introduction

The Mental Health Strategy for Canada defines recovery as living a satisfying, hopeful, and meaningful life, even when there are ongoing limitations caused by mental health issues. With the right combination of services and supports, many people who are living with even the most severe mental illnesses can experience significant improvements in their quality of life.

Recovery does not imply a “cure.” Yes, the full remission of symptoms may be possible for some. But for others, mental health issues should be thought of in the same way as diabetes or other chronic health problems — something that has to be managed over the course of your life but does not prevent you from leading a happy, fulfilling life.

Good mental health and wellbeing are important for all of us — no matter our age and whether or not we experience mental health issues. The principles of recovery apply to everybody. With children and youth, for example, a key focus should be on becoming resilient and attaining the best mental health possible as they grow. For seniors, it’s about addressing the additional challenges that come with aging.

Our goal in doing this work was simple. We wanted to bring to life a document that is accessible to everyone, including youth, with the hope of sparking the minds of Canadians to want to be a part of changing the mental health policy landscape.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 1:
ENCOURAGE LIFELONG MENTAL HEALTH IN ALL SOCIAL ENVIRONMENTS WHERE PEOPLE LIVE OR SPEND TIME AND PREVENT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND SUICIDE WHEREVER POSSIBLE.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 2:
FOCUS THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM ON RECOVERY AND WELLBEING FOR PEOPLE OF ALL AGES AND PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 3:
GIVE PEOPLE ACCESS TO THE RIGHT SERVICES, TREATMENTS, AND SUPPORTS WHEN AND WHERE THEY NEED THEM.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 4:
ENSURE EVERYONE HAS ACCESS TO APPROPRIATE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES BASED ON THEIR NEEDS, ESPECIALLY IN DIVERSE AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 5:
WORK WITH FIRST NATIONS, INUIT, AND MÉTIS TO MEET THEIR DISTINCT MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS, WHILE RESPECTING THEIR UNIQUE EXPERIENCES, RIGHTS, AND CULTURES.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 6:
INSPIRE LEADERSHIP, SHARE KNOWLEDGE, AND ENCOURAGE COLLABORATION AT ALL LEVELS.

Measuring progress of mental health outcomes is also extremely important, and not enough data are currently being collected to measure the critical elements of a recovery-oriented mental health system, such as quality of life, satisfaction with services, and how involved people with lived experience are in making decisions at all levels. New comprehensive data collection systems would make it possible to set and monitor clear targets for the availability and effectiveness of services.

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