A recently released survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), based on an online survey of 1,626 adult Canadians, showed that 87% of Canadians want universal mental health care and 69% believe the country is facing a mental health crisis. Is going through.
“If you break your leg, you know you can go anywhere in the country and you’re going to get the same level of treatment and care. But we can’t say the same for mental health,” CMHA national CEO Margaret Eaton said.
The idea of universal mental health care is for services funded through public health insurance and free to all Canadians, Eaton explained.
“We think it’s great that Canadians also want universal mental health care, because we’ve been talking with the federal government and the provinces for some time,” Eaton said.
“A large percentage of Canadians, particularly vulnerable children and youth, the LGBTQ community and people of colour, have been really affected by the pandemic and their mental health continues to be affected.”
For example, a study published last month in JAMA Pediatrics found an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety among young people, especially girls, following the pandemic.
And a study conducted in Calgary and published in The Lancet in March found that the pandemic increased mental distress in children, resulting in emergency calls for suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts among children and adolescents under 19. Room visits increased rapidly.
The CMHA survey found that a third of the 35% of Canadians who have had a mental health problem in the past year have not sought help, mainly because it is too expensive or because they do not know where to find it.
According to a 2018 CMHA report, the majority of Canadians who receive consultations for mild to moderate illnesses pay out of pocket or through private insurance plans through their employer. Even if counseling is covered by insurance, the CMHA states that it is limited, with coverage ranging from $400 to $1,500 annually.
And then there are individuals with more complex mental illnesses, who may face even greater barriers. The CMHA said these may be reliant on emergency services as their source of care due to long waiting times and lack of access to a GP or psychiatrist.
In 2021, the Trudeau government made an election promise to create a new $4.5 trillion Canada Mental Health Transfer, which would be sent to the provinces and territories over five years. However, there is no information about when such a transfer will happen.
In 2022, the Ontario provincial government announced it would fund an online mental health counseling program to help people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
Online program provides cognitive-behavioral therapy resources as well as weekly one-on-one virtual coaching, free of charge to all residents age 16 and older, with no referral required Is.
The province estimates the cost of the service to be between $340,000 and $510,000 annually.
Other countries have implemented similar strategies.
The UK National Health Service (NHS) provides free mental health services to all residents, including counselling, psychotherapy and medication management.
The strategy launched in 2008 has yielded good results. According to the NHS, after more than a decade of this free service, around 50% of patients with depression or anxiety had recovered and had an average of seven sessions with a therapist.