December 9, 2019
by The Mental Health Commission of Canada
Statement From Mental Health Commission of Canada and Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) applaud the federal government for putting mental health and addiction squarely on the map in its December 5th throne speech. Mental illness and substance use — and more specifically, the opioid crisis — are among our country’s most pressing public health policy concerns.
We support the government as it seizes an unprecedented opportunity to work with the provinces and territories on closing the gaps in service that leave 1.6 million people with an unmet need for mental health care as well as reducing the $38.4 billion in costs and harms associated with substance use. Ensuring everyone has access to a family doctor is an important first step, since primary care physicians are often the initial point of contact for someone experiencing a mental illness or harms from substance use. Further, with 500,000 people missing work every week as a result of a mental health problem — and a price tag of $15.7 billion attached to lost productivity from substance use — we commend the government’s intention to introduce mental health standards in the workplace.
We look forward to working with the government in the areas where federal investments will have the greatest potential impact. From addressing family violence and trauma to developing legislation to ensure Indigenous peoples have access to high-quality, culturally relevant mental health and addiction services. The MHCC, CCSA, and our many stakeholders — specifically, people with lived experience of mental illness and substance use — stand ready to assist. We are especially pleased to see the government taking steps to dismantle barriers to care for those experiencing harms from substance use. Combating stigma is an essential step in creating an accessible system of quality, publicly funded services and supports for these individuals.
Mental wellness is linked to improved housing, good employment, and strong social supports. Lifting children out of poverty, creating jobs, and addressing inequities that stem from discrimination are all keys to unlocking a healthier, more productive population. Properly supporting those living with mental illness and/or substance use disorder while promoting mental wellness and “whole health” from an early age, will be a defining feature of a progressive government in the 21st century.
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