Canadians want universal health care for mental health

Many Canadians believe the country is experiencing a mental health crisis and the government is not doing enough about it. Every May, since 1951, Canadians – in communities, schools, workplaces, and the House of Commons – have rallied around CMHA Mental Health Week. This year’s theme MY STORY aims to showcase the importance of securing universal mental health care.

“We hear stories from people across the country every day that services are hard to find, and not available to everyone,” says Margaret Eaton, National CEO, CMHA., on the website.

MY STORY also shines a spotlight on community mental health care champions and community programs.

Importance of mental health

The Canadian Mental Health Association states mental health is just as important as physical health to live a fully engaged life.

But many of the services and supports people need – counseling, psychotherapy, eating disorder treatments, substance use and addictions treatment – aren’t currently covered by public health insurance plans.

Sharing stories is at the heart of mental health. | Photo courtesy of Canadian Mental Health Assocation

A recent survey conducted for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) found almost nine-in-ten agree people living in Canada should have access to universal mental health care.

“[Valuing the importance] is why mental health services should be fully covered,” says Eaton.

According to the survey, 35 per cent of the people, who have experienced a mental health concern in the past year, did not reach out for help primarily because it is too expensive, or because they didn’t know where to find it.

Cost shouldn’t get in the way of care.

“Mental health care doesn’t just happen in a doctor’s office or in a hospital. There are community-based mental health services that work together with the medical system, and they need to be properly funded,” says Eaton.

Everyone should be able to get the support they need. Universal mental health care would not only reduce overall healthcare and other social costs, but it is essential for well-being in general. According to Eaton, the services must also be easy-to-find, free and available where people live, work and play.

Getting involved, getting the care

Recent research found 87 per cent of Canadians would like access to free, publicly funded mental health care; and 57 per cent would access mental health care through a community organization should a free program be available.

Mental Health Week can harness the power of storytelling to help build connections and understanding between each other while strengthening communities.

To get involved, people can share their story and support for universal mental health care using the hashtags #MyStory and #MentalHealthWeek; and learn about different types of mental health supports, and how they can be used to support those in need.

Closer to home, B.C.s CMHA Division states that they are currently working diligently behind the scenes and invite people to stay tuned for the 72nd edition of CMHA’s Mental Health Week, May 1, 2023 to May 7, 2023.

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