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Health Organizations Call for Targeted Mental Health Funding in the Health Accord
Health Organizations Call for Targeted Mental Health Funding in the Health Accord

Health Organizations Call for Targeted Mental Health Funding in the Health Accord

Three Leading National Mental Health Organizations Call for Targeted Mental Health Funding in the Health Accord.

In a letter, the heads of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association note that billions of dollars are spent on health, but only seven per cent goes to mental health.

The organizations say targeted mental-health funding must be part of a new health accord.

Letter:

Dear Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health,

A mental health crisis is around the corner in Canada. Stigma is lessening and people are coming forward to get help, but an already overtaxed and underfunded system can’t meet the rising demand.

This year, one in five people in our country will experience a mental health problem – that’s 6.7 million Canadians. Many will seek treatment, only to find that wait-lists are soaring. Some people won’t receive support until they find themselves in emergency rooms, shelters or, unfortunately, the justice system. Even more troubling, suicide is a leading cause of death among young people.

Of the billions we spend on health care in Canada, only about seven per cent goes to mental health. To put this in a global context, the UK’s National Health Service spends more than 13 per cent. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Canada’s relatively small investment puts us near the back of the pack among developed countries.

That’s why Canada’s leading mental health organizations are prevailing upon the provinces and territories and the federal government to work together to reshape our broken system.

Targeted mental health funding, tied to measureable outcomes, must be part of the new Health Accord. If the federal health minister is inclined to spend money on specific mental health initiatives, let’s give her every reason to open up the country’s coffers.

We know how to improve outcomes, both social and economic. We must invest in prevention, access to early intervention, psychotherapies, collaborative community mental health and e-mental health. Without an infusion of new dollars, help for mental illness will remain a privilege, well outside the grasp of some of the most vulnerable populations.

When Medicare was founded, more than a half century ago, it entrenched inequity between mental illness and physical illness. The federal government may be ready to seize a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redress five decades of underfunding and eliminate the barriers faced by people living with mental illness.

Let’s work together to clear every obstacle from their path.

Taking federal dollars earmarked for life altering – and in some cases, life-saving –mental health services is a winning proposition. Every province and territory has a mental health strategy. These plans arose from extensive consultations with experts, and are informed by the crucial insights of people living with mental illness and their families and caregivers. The time for strategies is long gone – it’s time for action. If the Trudeau Liberals want to invest in the very plans provinces and territories have created to meet the needs of their residents, and provide further support for national action on targeted solutions, where is the downside?

Let’s finally take Canada off the wait-list.

Sincerely,

Agencies/Canadajournal




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