Mental Health Crisis: mEntAl iLLNeSS

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Mental illness is beyond a mental health crisis – at this point, it is a mental health epidemic!

Mental health is one of the most complex challenges to tackle in Canada. Unfortunately, not enough funds are available in healthcare to provide for everyone with mental illness as one in five people have a diagnosed mental health diagnosis.

It is beyond a mental health crisis. At this point, it is a mental health epidemic!

Mental Health Crisis: mEntAl iLLNeSS

Cost containment is the most significant barrier to mental health in our health care system.

Cost containment is the capacity of a plan to control expenditure.

Canada only funds 70% publicly in the health care system (Fierlbeck K, 2011).

As a result, we do not have enough psychiatrists, psychologists, councillors, nurses, beds, equipment, etc., to treat everyone properly; some choose not to get treated, and the mental health epidemic in America sadly rises.

In addition, some people do not have the funds to cover their expenses regarding mental health issues.

It can cost hundreds of dollars to talk to a mental health specialist and pay for meds.

Mental Health Epidemic

As we are in a mental health epidemic, the government should be providing all the necessary resources for free to help those in the mental health crisis.

According to Health Canada, at least 20% of Canadians will experience mental illness; the remaining 80% will be affected by mental illness in family members, friends, and colleagues. (Druss BG, Rosenheck RA, 2000).

The Canadian Psychiatric Association states that at least 2/3 of Canadians are touched by anxiety and depression.

In Canada, estimated economic costs (health care costs and loss of work productivity) of mental illness was at least 7.3 billion in 1993 (Fierlbeck K, 2011).

If they took a couple of that billion they just lost, they could provide enough resources to help those people back to work, thus adding more money into the economy.

In the past decade, health care costs were more than $33 billion.

By 2020, depression will be the single most expensive cause of lost workplace productivity due to disability.

In 2000, more than 3 billion prescriptions were filled for psychiatric drugs in the US and Canada.

According to the Canadian Government website, 11 people commit suicide a day in Canada. With COVID and job loss circumstances, that number is a lot higher.

In August 2007, Stephan Harper announced the creation of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. That will commit $15 million a year, which is peanuts compared to today’s mental health care crisis.

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Mental Illness Strategy 

The commission has three strategic initiatives:

  1. developing a mental health strategy
  2. combat stigma and discrimination
  3. promoting knowledge exchange

Family physicians are the initial contact for about 85% of people with mental health problems (McLellan At, 2000).

There is no explicit right in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that there is no right to health care (Fierlbeck K, 2011). The Canadian Health Act only covers medically necessary, and provinces determine required.

Since the establishment of the Charter in 1982, there have been very few successful challenges in health care challenges under the Charter have focused on three specific rights: equal right (section 15), mobility rights (section 6), and rights to life, liberty, and security (section 7) (Fierlbeck K, 2011).’

They typically have more severe physical health problems than the general population for those in the mental health crisis population.

Persons with severe mental illness are less likely to use general, preventive, and specialty healthcare services.

Substance misuse disorders are now looked at by clinical experts as chronic diseases, which are often associated with many other side effects (e.g. kidney disease, diabetes and major depression).

Many who have mental health issues self-medicate with street drugs, which amplify their problematic mental health adding more problems with the rise of the mental health crises.

The Institute of Medicine Report on Improving the Quality of Health Care for Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions urges healthcare education to conceptualize and respond to the brain/mind and body interactions.


Carney CP, Allen J, Doebbeling BN. Receipt of clinical preventive medical services among psychiatric patients. Psychiatric Services 2002; 53(8):1028–1030.

The Committee on Crossing the Quality chasm: Adaptation to mental health and addictive disorders. Improving the quality of health care for mental and substance-use conditions: Quality chasm series. 2006.

Druss BG, Bradford DW, Rosenheck RA, Radford MJ, Krumholz HM. Mental disorders and use of cardiovascular procedures after myocardial infarction. Journal of the American Journal Association 2000; 283(4):506–511.

Druss BG, Rosenheck RA. Locus of mental health treatment in an integrated service system. Psychiatric Services 2000; 51(7):890–892.

Fierlbeck, K. (2011). Health Care in Canada. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.


Dean Mathers


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