Bell Let’s Talk Day a reminder about Ontario’s Lack of mental health and addictions services
(Thunder Bay, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018) – This year, people in Thunder Bay have an opportunity to push for lasting change on Bell Let’s Talk Day.
Sign the petition at www.erasethedifference.ca and send a strong message to provincial election candidates that mental health and addictions care in Ontario must be funded the same as physical health care.
The petition is led by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario Division in collaboration with all 30 CMHA Branches across Ontario in the lead up to the June provincial election.
“Awareness campaigns such as Bell Let’s Talk Day are so important as they give permission for us to start a conversation about the importance of mental wellness. We believe that through this dialogue we can reduce the stigma and discrimination that is often associated with mental health and addictions challenges,” said Sharon Pitawanakwat, of CMHA Thunder Bay Branch.
“The reality is that community based mental health and addictions services in Ontario remain chronically underfunded compared to other parts of the health system,” Pitawanakwat said. “Without regular and ongoing investments into our sector, people seeking help will continue to struggle in isolation, go to the Emergency Room for service or worse yet, become involved with the judicial system”.
The burden of mental illness in Ontario is 1.5 times that of all cancers combined and more than seven times of all infectious diseases.[i]
The mental health and addictions share of the health budget is 6.5 per cent. In 1979, it was 11.3 per cent. [iv]
There are 30 CMHA branches throughout Ontario. Together with other local agencies, CMHAs belong to a community-based mental health and addictions sector that serves over half a million Ontarians.
But many community-based agencies like ours have received little to no budget increases for approximately 8 years. Without ongoing investment, we will face challenges maintaining or enhancing vital community-based services and the workforce delivering these services. In addition, as the needs in our community grow – our services need to grow as well.
CMHA Thunder Bay Branch CEO Sharon Pitawanakwat states, “We have been working with a number of other partner agencies developing a vision that will expand our Crisis Response Services. We envision a 24/7 Community Based Walk In Crisis Centre, with a 10 Bed Short Stay Crisis Residence capacity, and an expanded Crisis Mobile Team that can offer mental health support to emergency service providers such as policing. We would like to see this vision to become a reality by 2021.To make this happen enhanced funding is needed.”
- Currently, the average wait time to see a counsellor across Ontario is five months.
- One in five Ontarians experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year.
- 500,000 Canadians will miss work due to mental health issues in any given week
For more information about Canadian Mental Health Association, Thunder Bay Branch
For more information, contact:
CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, Thunder Bay Branch
[ii] Ratnasingham S, Cairney J, Rehm J, Manson H, Kurdyak PA. (2012) Opening Eyes, Opening Minds: The Ontario Burden of Mental Illness and Addictions Report https://www.ices.on.ca/Publications/Atlases-and-Reports/2012/Opening-Eyes-Opening-Minds
[ii] Brien et al. (2015). Taking Stock: A report on the quality of mental health and addictions services in Ontario. re for Addictions and Mental Health (2012) Mental Illness and Addictions: Facts and Statistics.
[iii] Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (2017) 2017- 2018 Published Plan and 2016-2017 Annual Report http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/ministry/publications/plans/ppar17/
[iv] Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (1979) Estimated Allocations of Mental Health and Addictions Expenditures- 1979-1980. Reports published by Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (No longer in publication t available online).