CMHA BC Submits Together BC Poverty Reduction Strategy
There is a complex two-way relationship between mental health, substance use and poverty. People experiencing mental illness and/or substance use are at increased risk of living in poverty because of stigma, discrimination, social exclusion, additional healthcare costs and barriers to employment. Conversely, people living in poverty face increased risk of experiencing stress and trauma, which has a strong correlation with mental illness and problematic substance use; economic security is a key determinant of mental health and wellbeing. Additionally, an adequate standard of living is critical to supporting the recovery of a person experiencing mental health or substance use-related illness.
The relationship between poverty, mental health and substance use is even more complex for people who experience additional forms of social exclusion or marginalization. For example, Indigenous people grappling with the impacts of inter-generational trauma and the ongoing consequences of colonization face disproportionate rates of poverty, mental illness and problematic substance use;² the impacts of stigma, discrimination, cultural interference and poverty are deeply intertwined.
This submission to the consultation on Together BC: BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy focuses on the gains that have been made for people living in poverty – in particular those for whom mental illness and/or substance use intersect with poverty – as well as the gaps that continue to perpetuate poverty in our communities, especially in the context of unprecedented factors like Covid-19 and climate-related disasters. In particular, we will focus on three key areas of feedback that are most pressing for the people we serve: mental health and substance use supports, income and employment supports, and housing. We include a number of recommendations, some of which have not changed since our 2018 submission for the consultation on the development of Together BC. Overall, significant gains have been made, but there is still a lot of work to do. We are grateful to the Government of BC for the opportunity to provide feedback on this important work.