Next week the federal minister of health will meet with her provincial counterparts in Toronto to negotiate a new health accord. There is a crisis that desperately requires the ministers’ attention: the gap between physical health care and mental health care in Canada.
We’ve come a long way. Honest conversations have galvanized attention across the country; people with lived experience of mental illness have bravely shared their stories; innovative brain research is reaching a tipping point; novel treatments and care models are emerging. People have come to recognize that there is no health without mental health. But, given the burden of mental illness in Canada, it’s hasn’t been enough.
Canadians with anxiety disorders, depression, suicide and substance use are not getting the help they need and the care they deserve. Wait lists are growing. People are in pain. Lives are being lost. It shouldn’t be this way.
Mental health care is under-resourced in Canada. Mental illness accounts for about 10 per cent of the burden of illness in Ontario but receives just 7 per cent of health care dollars. That translates into a $1.5-billion gap.