Canadian Mental Health Association – calls for new mental health promotion strategy to get out in front of mental illness.
Released May 6, a Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) policy paper calls for a new Canadian mental health promotion strategy in the face of rising rates of mental illness worldwide. The call is one of the six recommendations outlined in the policy paper, Cohesive, Collaborative, Collective: Advancing Mental Health Promotion in Canada.
“An increased focus on mental health promotion and prevention better serves all Canadians, including those with mental illness as it alleviates pressure on the acute-care system,” says Marion Cooper, Executive Director of CMHA Manitoba and Winnipeg.
Programs aimed at suicide prevention and community-based programs that address anger management, stress reduction, impulse control and self-regulation are proven to improve mental health of Canadians and reduce public and private-sector expenditure on mental health care and treatment.
“Part of the reason we have long wait times and barriers to access is that, for example, those with mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression are waiting to see a psychiatrist to get help, when they could be best served by other community health care professionals,” says Cooper.
The paper cites that to be successful, the national mental health promotion strategy must:
• include an increase in the share of health budget spent on mental health to 9.0% from 7.2%
• address mental health implications of federal policies and programs across all departments and ministries
• replicate and scale programs that address social inequalities and disparities that cause poor mental health
• invest in social marketing campaigns to educate the public
The paper recommends the strategy be accompanied by an increase in social spending by 2.0% with a special focus on older adults facing loneliness, youth facing stressors of the social media age and the unemployed and underemployed in today’s gig economy.
“The policy paper makes the case to grow programs and activities that address psychological, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural well-being.” says Cooper. “We teach music, math and coding in schools — why not critical life skills like empathy, stress management and self-esteem? We have a very exciting opportunity here to add mental health education to compulsory school curriculum and make a lasting, positive impact on our next generation.”
Schools are an ideal setting to promote good mental health as 70% of mental health problems begin in childhood and adolescence. School-based approaches help students develop empathy, tenacity, self-
esteem, impulse control and self-regulation along with managing stress, identifying emotions and getting along with others. When taught at a young age, these mental health skills show lifelong benefits.
“When we understand what mental health really is, we start to get that it’s something we all have. The mental health-care system of the future is not just in clinics or hospitals—it’s in workplaces and schools, serving entire populations and not just individual patients,” says CMHA National CEO, Dr. Patrick Smith.
“There are great programs happening in our province, but more needs to be done to enhance mental health promotion to help Manitobans thrive,” says Cooper.
To learn more about CMHA’s policy paper, Cohesive, Collaborative, Collective: Advancing Mental Health Promotion in Canada:
About the Canadian Mental Health Association
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province, In Manitoba CMHA provides advocacy, programs and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Manitobans to flourish and thrive. For more information, visit cmha.ca.