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HomeWhat We DoAccess to Quality Mental Health Care

Access to Quality Mental Health Care

What is the issue?

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.

High-quality mental health services are

  • stigma free
  • recovery oriented
  • evidence informed
  • culturally safe and linguistically appropriate
  • equitable and inclusive.

What are we doing?

We are part of several initiatives, undertaken with other health-care organzations across Canada, that seek to increase access to high-quality mental health services.

Schizophrenia Demonstration Project logo

Schizophrenia Quality Standards

The Mental Health Commission of Canada and Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) are collaborating on a nationwide demonstration project to advance treatment, strengthen care delivery, and improve outcomes for those living with schizophrenia. Learn more about this important project. Learn more about this important project.

Supporting those living with concurrent physical chronic disease and mental health problems or illnesses

Physical chronic diseases often co-occur with mental health problems and illnesses. To further explore this relationship, we have developed several resources in collaboration with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, including a scoping review and Quick Facts on Mental Health and Chronic Disease and Mental Health and Cancer.

Quality Mental Health Care Network

In partnership with HealthCareCAN, we co-lead the Quality Mental Health Care Network, which has developed the Quality Mental Health Care Framework, a key tool in the development of leading practices in quality mental health care.

E-mental health solutions

As an effective and complementary option to face-to-face mental health support, the internet, mobile apps, and other technologies can be used to deliver timely, effective mental health services and provide the right care solutions when and where people need them. Learn more on our E-Mental Health page.

Increased access to psychotherapies

The Psychotherapy Policy Implementation Network (PPIN) was a pan-Canadian group of policy makers, researchers, clinicians, persons with lived and living experience, and other relevant experts. In seeking to expand access to psychotherapies, the PPIN worked to align key stakeholders, support knowledge sharing, build consensus, and develop recommendations. Go to our Expanding Access page to learn more.

Supporting immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural, and racialized (IRER) populations

We supported a research demonstration project to develop culturally adapted cognitive behavioural therapy for South Asians in Canada who are affected by anxiety and depression. Together with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), we worked with respected community agencies across Canada that were essential to the project’s implementation. These include Moving Forward Family Services (Vancouver), Punjabi Community Health Services (Toronto), and the Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre.

Learn more about our work to support IRER populations.


Reducing structural stigma in health care

We assist in the development, implementation, and evaluation of initiatives to reduce structural stigma in health-care organizations. Learn more on our structural stigma page.

Better outcomes through recovery-oriented practice

The Guidelines for Recovery-Oriented Practice, developed through partnerships with diverse stakeholders, is Canada’s first comprehensive reference document for understanding recovery-oriented practice.

A toolkit to support the implementation of these guidelines is forthcoming. Visit our Recovery page to learn more.

Addressing psychosocial factors specific to health care

When health-care workers experience mental health problems or burnout, they may find delivering quality patient care more difficult. Preventing illness and promoting well-being is crucial to achieving quality mental health care. Learn more on our Psychological Health and Safety within Healthcare Settings page.

Stepped Care 2.0 

Stepped Care 2.0© uses a recovery-oriented approach to provide flexible access to a range of wellness and mental health resources like e-mental health apps and online and in-person services. It’s a person-centered, evidence-informed system that structures care according to the least intensive and most effective options, giving service users the greatest likelihood of improvement. Learn more on our Stepped Care 2.0 page.

Related Initiatives
Stepped Care 2.0 Report

A roadmap for reducing wait times and improving care

Toolkit for E-Mental Health Implementation
Caring for Healthcare Workers – Assessment Tools


The high cost of living in Canada has led to increased financial insecurity, pressures on food and housing affordability, and income inequality —which all significantly impact mental health and well-being.

The high cost of living in Canada has led to increased financial insecurity, income inequality, and pressures on food and housing affordability — which all significantly impact mental health and well-being.

A summary of Partnering Together for Person- and Family-Centric Care: The Northwest Territories Stepped Care 2.0 Final Report.

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We all have different needs when it comes to mental wellness. If people have access to a diverse range of service options, they are more likely to get the right care at the right time for their own needs and preferences. This a foundation of the Stepped Care 2.0© (SC2.0), approach to service delivery.

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