Mental health care is basic care. It’s not a frill.

Mental health care is basic care. Without it, people suffer and people lose their lives.

But our health care system doesn’t offer – or cover – mental health care for everyone.

If you have back pain, or a skin rash, there is health care. If you find a lump or break your arm, there’s health care. The doctor will know what to do or where to send you. And it is covered.

But this just isn’t true for mental health.

You might get some mental health care if you can pay a therapist, or you have some private coverage. But a family doctor may be your only source of care, and you may be one of the millions of Canadians who don’t have one. Even if you have a family doctor, though, they’re not set up to give you comprehensive mental health care or to refer you.  Mental health services in the community are just plain scarce. And most aren’t covered by public health insurance.

Mental health is like a broken bone: it won’t heal on its own.

When we can’t get mental health care, we just keep getting sicker. And sicker. Until we wind up in a crisis – and in an emergency department. Maybe we get treated at the hospital. But maybe we’re discharged without a plan and are on our own again. Getting sicker all the time.

All of this could be avoided if public funds for mental health care were spent up front. Before a crisis. When it’s needed.

It’s a crisis that we can’t ignore.

  • One third of people in Canada will experience a mental illness or substance use disorder during their lifetime.
  • Yet one third of those people can’t get the care they need. As many as 3 in 4 children who need care can’t get it.
  • The pandemic only made things worse, with 37% of Canadians saying their mental health declined.

Still, only some of us will get the care we need. The Prime Minister and his government could make it so. Sign your name.

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