It is less than a week to one of our biggest holiday seasons and earlier this week our provincial and federal health Ministers met together to strike a new Health Accord that had the promise to support children, youth and families to get mental health and addictions care b4stage4.
Yesterday was an opportunity to have dedicated funds for prevention and early intervention. Yesterday was an opportunity to turn around the tragedy of relying on police and emergency departments.
We expect governments of all levels to invest in the mental health and wellbeing of all citizens. Mental health is not an ‘either/ or’ issue. We require the cooperation and leadership of municipal, provincial/territorial and federal governments to make a difference for people in their community’s long b4stage4.
For many years the Canadian Mental Health Association has been asking for three keys to success:
- Increase the proportion of health spending on mental health from 7 – 9 %
- Increase the proportion on social spending by 2%
- Spend smarter by understanding where there are inefficiencies in the system
Did you know?
Canada could achieve the 9% target by investing $4.29 billion over 10 years. That amounts to $429 million increase each year for 10 years, which is the equivalent of $12 per Canadian each year. Per capita spending on mental health would increase to $544, an increase of $121 over 10 years.
This would allow provinces and territories to make needed investments in mental health and addiction systems, improve access and foster innovation.
Ten years have passed since Out of the Shadows at Last (MHCC, 2006) identified a need for $5.3 billion dollars of investment. To date, this has not been realized. Additionally, a reduction in federal transfers to the provinces beginning in 2017 will make it even harder for provinces to invest in mental health. Without increased dedicated investment we will continue to lose ground and miss opportunities to intervene early, improve access to programs and services and reduce the impact of mental illness.
Did you know?
Doing nothing costs us. The economic cost of mental health problems or illnesses to Canada is at least $50 billion dollars a year. It also costs business more than $6 billion in lost productivity. Unemployment rates for people living with mental illness are as high as 90%. And in any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians who have jobs are unable to work due to mental health problems. That is a loss in productivity that affects everybody.
People living with mental health problems who don’t receive help, can become high users of the health system, social services, social housing and, in some cases, the criminal justice system. More than 500,000 people in Canada with mental health and addiction issues are homeless or on the verge of becoming homeless
The good news is we don’t need to start from scratch. Good things are happening right across the country that can be replicated and enhanced with investment from a Mental Health Transition and Innovation Fund that works in partnership and provides dedicated resources for provinces and territories.