The system is broken
The current system is not meeting the mental health needs of people in Canada. Our “universal health-care” system doesn’t guarantee access to many basic mental health services.
- Over 1.6 million Canadians report unmet mental health care needs each year.
- 85% of Canadians think mental health services are among the most underfunded services in our health-care system.
- Mental illness costs the Canadian economy $42 billion a year and depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.
- Many mental health services and supports, like those provided by addiction counselors, psychologists, social workers and specialized peer support workers are underfunded or not funded in Canada—and yet are the foundation of the mental health response in other G7 countries.
- Up to 80% of Canadians rely solely on their family physicians to meet their mental health care needs, and 5 million Canadians do not have a family physician.
- Canadians spend $950 million on counselling services each year; 30% of it out of pocket.
- Canadians deserve access to a continuum of publicly funded mental health and addictions services.
The solution is community
CMHA believes in care before There is so much more that can be done in communities to promote mental health, prevent mental illness and intervene early.
- When it comes to mental health, we can’t just treat illness, we have to get ahead of it.
- Canada has typically invested in a “sickness care” system, with acute services and beds to care for people who are ill or in crisis. Acute care is essential, but so much more can be done and done earlier.
- CMHA provides the kinds of mental health services and supports that aren’t always available in the public healthcare system.
- These community programs, services, resources and supports help people recover from mental illness, help prevent mental health problems from taking hold in the first place, and promote positive mental health in schools, on campuses, in workplaces and in the community at large.
- These important services also take the pressure off the acute-care system by preventing mental health problems or addressing them early.
- People need more than access to healthcare to have good mental health. Meeting basic needs such as housing, food, secure employment, education and connection to culture is the foundation of wellness.
- A settings-based approach:
- The future of mental health care is not just in clinics or hospitals—it’s also in communities, workplaces and schools.
- CMHA works to create healthier environments in which Canadians live, work, learn and play every day.
- Mentally healthier workplaces:
- 60% of people in Canada participate in the workforce.
- There is strong evidence that workplace-based interventions for mental health and well-being are effective in improving productivity and reducing absenteeism and presenteeism. They are also cost-effective for employers and help reduce health care costs.
- Early intervention/schools:
- To avoid crisis, we need to intervene before illness can take hold, and earlier in life.
- 70% of mental health problems begin in childhood and adolescence.
- In Canada, only 1 in 5 children receive appropriate mental health services.
- Suicide is the second leading case of death among youth and young adults between 15-34 years.
- Mental health promotion efforts are most effective when they begin early in life.
School-based approaches, such as social and emotional learning (SEL) programs, which teach age-appropriate social and emotional skills, can help students develop impulse control and self-regulation, manage anger and stress, identify emotions in others, feel empathy, listen and communicate and get along with others.
A climate of understanding
Rather than just tackling stigma, the Canadian Mental Health Association is committed to tackling the misunderstandings that underlie stigma to push for social justice and real change.
- Research from CMHA and UBC found that 41% of people in Canada reported a decline in their mental health since the onset of the pandemic; this jumps to half (50%) of young Canadians (18-24 years old), 54% among Indigenous peoples and 46% among people who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+.
- Good mental health requires freedom from harm, trauma, racism and discrimination.
- CMHA is deeply committed to Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation.
- We recognize the need to reflect on how we, as an organization, have contributed over the past century to mental health harms and damage caused by poverty, racism and ignorance.
- We recognize the resilience of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples and the power of their knowledge and wisdom.
- We recognize both the unique strengths and the unique needs of diverse people in Canada, including Black people, Indigenous peoples, people of colour, newcomers, immigrants and refugees.
- CMHA will continue to advocate for equitable access to social and health services and the right of all people to enjoy the best possible physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
- The objective of CMHA campaigns like Mental Health Week is to shift attitudes and perceptions and promote behaviours that foster well-being, support good mental health and create a culture of understanding and acceptance.
- Government of Canada, 2006
- Public Health Agency of Canada, 2019
- Sarcassani et al., 2015