Mental health needs long-term strategy

Posted on October 15, 2010 in Health Debates

Source: — Authors: – Opinion/Letters – Re: Coroner’s Inquest: System fails mentally ill, Editorial, Oct. 13
Published On Fri Oct 15 2010.   

Steve Lurie, CMHA Toronto

The DeBassige inquest simply confirms what the Select Committee of the Ontario Legislature has found — there is no real mental health system to help the 20 per cent of Ontarians living with mental illness and addiction problems. Only three in 10 people living with mental health and addiction problems get any help at all. Ontario and Canada rank lowest of OECD countries in terms of the amount they spend on mental health services.

Fixing this and implementing the inquest recommendations will cost money. We know what to do and actually have research evidence to prove things like mobile crisis teams work. But the research also demonstrates that there are not enough community services on the ground. Changing this will require a long-term strategy and political will to increase the mental health share of health spending, making use of the $1.5 billion that Ontario will receive in increased federal health transfers between now and 2014 to fund evidence-based services.

Some argue that we can’t afford to make investments at this time and that it will be possible to transform services without new funding. Toronto cannot have police crisis intervention teams in each police division without new funding, nor can we provide supportive housing to the 2,500 people on the wait list without money for rent supplements and supports. Given the agreement of all three political parties on the Select Committee report, the government has no reason to delay releasing its 10-year plan for mental health and addictions along with funding to implement it.

Steve Lurie, Executive Director, 

Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto Branch

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