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Mental Health Strategy for Canada

This strategy was published in 2012. The data may be out of date.

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

Related Initiatives
Informing the Future

Mental Health Indicators for Canada

Stigma and Discrimination

Changing How We See Mental Ilness

Resources

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) created Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada to draw on the experience, knowledge and wisdom of thousands of people across the country and provide an opportunity for everyone’s efforts – large and small – to help bring about change. We are using this foundational document to map a course of action. Click on the links below for more information.

The Roots of Hope model builds on community expertise to implement suicide prevention and life promotion initiatives based on 5 pillars of action and 13 guiding principles. Since the launch…

In Canada, an estimated 1.6 million children and youth have a diagnosed mental health challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious global economic and social impacts, and it continues to…

Approximately 4,500 deaths by suicide occur in Canada every year. Data exist to explain differences between sexes and age groups regarding suicide patterns; however, our understanding of the specific experiences…

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.

The National Community of Practice (NCoP) brings Roots of Hope communities together to engage in peer to peer support and connect representatives, researchers, regional stakeholders, and people with lived experience…

This webinar offers insights on the mental health impacts of the high cost of living on diverse communities and explores the complex relationship between mental health and money, housing, food,…

A 2022 Canadian Alliance of Student Associations study found that 75 per cent of all post-secondary students report negative mental health experiences, and more than 25 per cent rate their…

Addressing stigma in health care is crucial for individuals with mental health or substance use issues. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has developed two tools, the Stigma Cultures in…

Mental health affects everyone, including health-care workers. This video tells the story of an individual who finds access to quality mental health care services — but only after an overwhelming…

Hear from health-care experts offering their insights on the stigma-free and inclusive dimension of the Quality Mental Health Care Framework, focusing on the crucial concept of structural stigma. Our expert…

The mental health and substance use health (MHSUH) impacts of COVID-19 and the overdose crisis have increased the gap between what the population needs and what the service system can…