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What We Do

Opening minds, hearts, and doors

At the Mental Health Commission of Canada, we deliver real and meaningful change through initiatives that support people in their communities. Our research and policy work also addresses gaps in Canada’s mental health services to provide better outcomes for all.

People in Canada who live with a mental health problem or illness should be able to expect timely access to high-quality services — on par with those available for physical illness — no matter where or when they need them.

For Canadians living with mental health problems and illness, caregivers — whether relatives or people drawn from broader circles of support — are critical to recovery. Despite their crucial role, caregivers’ contributions, and the effects of caregiving on their own wellbeing, have long been underestimated and marginalized.

Establishing the foundation for healthy emotional and social development, as well as prevention and early intervention, are all vital to ensuring the mental wellbeing of every person in Canada as they progress from childhood to adulthood.

Canada is often defined by its diversity. Home to millions of people from different backgrounds and cultures, more than 200 languages are spoken across the country, with 20 per cent of Canadians having a language other than English or French as their mother tongue. However, providing mental health services and supports to such a diverse population can be challenging.

There is growing need for mental health services and resources across Canada, but the economic cost to meet such need is substantial. e-mental health could help to fill this gap in a cost-effective way, if we can first learn how best to support its further development and implementation, and how to better position e-mental health technologies and services within the mental healthcare system.

Working with concepts such as resilience, self-determination, and holistic understandings of wellness, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures have much to contribute to the transformation of the mental health system in Canada.

As we grow to better understand the co-occurring nature of mental health problems and substance use, there is a call to work more closely on providing integrated care. This work is new to the MHCC, and we are building networks and collaborating with partners working across the field. We are currently focusing on the ongoing opioid crisis, which is taking a devastating toll on individuals, families, front-line workers and communities across the country.

As we learn more about the complex challenges involved in the relation between mental health and criminal justice, experts in the field, people with lived and living experience, and other stakeholders have been encouraging us to play a role in bringing about meaningful change. With that in mind, we are leading the development of a national action plan to support the mental health and well-being of people who interact with the criminal justice system in Canada.

MHFA is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Just as physical first aid is administered to an injured person before medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate treatment is found or until the crisis is resolved.

In order to paint a more complete picture of the mental health landscape in Canada, the MHCC presents 55 indicators reflecting mental health for children and youth, adults, and seniors. The indicators look at mental health in different settings and report on aspects of services and supports used by people living with mental health problems and illnesses.

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.

Mental health problems or mental illness should not be considered an inevitable consequence of aging, and age should not limit access to quality mental health services. Yet this is often the case in Canada. Community-based services and primary care providers must better help seniors successfully manage and treat the different mental health problems they may face.

60% of people with a mental health problem or illness won’t seek help for fear of being labelled. So what can we do? Change our attitude, improve mental health literacy, help workplaces see past labels, understand stigma in health care, and incorporate the social determinants of health.

Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting, harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities.

Addressing workplace factors that affect mental health helps all workers succeed, including those living with mental illness. Yet workplaces can be stressful environments that increase the risk of mental health problems and illnesses, which take a significant toll on workers, businesses, and Canada’s mental health system.