Tomorrow’s First Ministers’ Meeting between the prime minister and premiers from across the country presents an important opportunity to underscore the need for additional funding for mental health services.
New polling data from the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction suggests that the number of people in Canada reporting strong mental health has gone down 23 per cent, a drop from about two-thirds of the population to less than half. In light of such a trend, the MHCC’s Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada’s Mental Health System in mental health promotion, mental illness prevention, and access to care is more urgent than ever. Doing so now will also bend the cost curve down into the next generation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light longstanding disparities in physical health outcomes, with low-income and racialized people far more likely to contract the virus. But mental health outcomes need just as much attention. Canada’s current patchwork of services is not yet up to the challenge that lies ahead — especially for populations who are already vulnerable.
One way to fend off a mental illness echo pandemic is to enshrine national standards for access to mental health services, levelling the playing field between mental and physical health once and for all. Truly creating equity, however, will require an approach that fosters better collaboration across all sectors, from health and education to justice and social supports.
If we work together, the legacy of our collective COVID-19 response can be unprecedented innovation. The Wellness Together Canada portal, built on a framework championed by the MHCC, is just one example of how partnerships across jurisdictions can translate into meaningful services. Today, every person in this country can access free mental health support through an online service that was developed to meet a need — almost overnight.
If we can accomplish that, a feat once thought impossible — if imagined at all — picture how bright the future could be. We urge federal, provincial, and territorial leaders to use this opportunity to collaborate, innovate, and put forward mental health solutions now — lest we pay later, with compound interest.
President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
Mental Health Commission of Canada
613-683-3748 / firstname.lastname@example.org