Mental health is health care’s orphan

Posted on in Health Debates

Source: — Authors: – Opinion/Letters to the Editor
January 31, 2019.   Steve Lurie

In 1963, CMHA published More for the Mind, which noted that in no other field except leprosy has there been as much confusion, misdirection and discrimination. Nearly 20 years ago, Dr. Paul Garfinkel called mental health the orphan child of health care. It still is.

Despite the success of Bell Let’s Talk, and more than 10 years of work by the Mental Health Commission, the mental-health share of health spending continues to decline. The recent Health Accord between Canada and the provinces will invest $5-billion in mental-health services over 10 years, but spending will still be short of the annualized $3.1-billion investment that is required to reach the Mental Health Commission target of 9 per cent of health spending.

While this seems like a lot of money, it only requires a per capita investment of $120 per Canadian, which would be added to the $6,839 per capita we spend on health each year. Without these investments, wait lists and wait times will continue to grow. For example the wait list for supportive housing in Toronto has grown from 700 in 2009 to more than 15,000 now. So we need both – more talk and more action!

Steve Lurie, Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto Branch

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