Last week federal, provincial and territorial governments came together to work towards a new Health Accord. This is something that Justin Trudeau campaigned on, and promised a new ‘long-term funding formula.’
One thing that is for sure when our elected representatives are discussing health care, is that there still needs to be more attention on mental health in Canada.
But it isn’t a matter of just throwing money at the issue, according to a recent opinion article by Michael Wilson, Board Chair, Mental Health Commission of Canada. As he pointed out, awareness levels have increased, but there are still a number of gaps threatening the progress.
One is the ‘dire lack of access to services’, where Canada’s youth, Indigenous population and those living in rural and remote communities, have trouble accessing services.
The other area is in the workplace.
“People who want to be gainfully employed, but who are living with a serious mental illness and have been sidelined from the workforce,” wrote Wilson.
It is clear that we need to take the same kind of resources and funding we use for physical health and take the same strategy towards mental health.
We can’t have another 4,000 Canadians die by suicide this year or lose another $50 billion in lost productivity.
The government must take action when planning health spending.
One section of the Canadian population that is particularly pushing for increased access to mental health services are millennials, who are the most likely to be uninsured or have no coverage at work.
Millennials are more likely to have ‘low to middle-income jobs or work part-time.’ These jobs are typically not unionized and come with lower wages, little job security and no health coverage. Add to this the ‘high cost of living and record-level debt’ that young people are experiencing and you can see why mental health is a big concern.
Unions are working hard to make sure mental health is taken seriously. Teamsters Local 362 has run the Make It Mandatory mental health campaign, and most recently, You Are Not Alone – a docu-series bringing awareness to suicide prevention. We have also worked to have mental health written into collective agreements.
As the health care conversation continues at the federal and provincial level, many Canadians are hoping mental health will be a priority.