Mental health | A “parallel pandemic” in Canada

(Ottawa) The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a “parallel pandemic”: a worrying rise in the number of Canadians with mental health problems.

Posted at 5:00 am

Joel-Denis Bellavance

Joel-Denis Bellavance
The press

But access to adequate services is lacking. The delays are too long. Experts sound the alarm during Mental Health Week (May 2-8).

“It is an illusion to think that we can make a social and economic recovery without taking care of people’s mental health. It’s a sine qua non,” said Michel Rodrigue, chairman and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

“The data is clear: we are facing a pandemic associated with mental and substance use disorders. Unfortunately, access to mental health care was already lacking before the pandemic. And now we are in a situation where the mental health of Canadians has deteriorated. It is therefore a subject that is extremely important to look at,” he underlined.

Young families and children have been through difficult times during the pandemic. According to him, they will suffer the consequences of the health crisis for a long time to come.

In a prosperous society like Canada and Quebec, it is unacceptable that we have to put young people in need of mental health care on waiting lists.

Michel Rodrigue, CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada

According to the CSMC, as many as 35% of salaried people in Canada say they suffer from exhaustion. One in five workers feel in crisis or worry about their ability to cope with the situation. And at least 30% of short-term and long-term disability claims in the country are due to mental illness or mental health issues.

During the pandemic, the CSMC has also asked PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct regular surveys to measure the severity of the situation. “The data shows that 46% of respondents say mental health problems are one of the biggest problems at work. In women, it is even higher, at 50%,” said Mr. Rodrigues.

As counties lift health restrictions and some workers begin to return to personal work, the MHCC has released a toolkit for managers and employees to reduce stigma associated with mental health and promote successful returns, particularly in the context of a hybrid workplace.

“We have to take care of it”

While he welcomes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to appoint for the first time a minister in his cabinet responsible for this dossier (Carolyn Bennett is Minister for Mental Health and Addictions), Mr Rodrigue believes that governments need new investment to do to improve access to services .

I immediately recognize that all governments have a lot of pressure on health. But it really is time to pay attention to mental health. The well-being of people, if we want to recover at the social level, at the economic level, then we have to take care of it.

Michel Rodrigue, CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada

Mr Rodrigue was pleased that the main political parties raised the issue of mental health in the most recent federal elections. He said he hoped the issue would also be addressed during the election campaign that begins in Ontario ahead of the vote on June 2 and Quebec later in the fall.

In a written statement released as part of Mental Health Week, Federal Health Secretary Jean-Yves Duclos and Secretary Carolyn Bennett said the pandemic “continues to have significant effects on the mental health and substance use of our relatives, friends and colleagues. †

“More than ever, everyone in Canada must have access to the services and support they need, as well as effective resources, including credible and reliable information about mental health and substance use,” they argued.

They noted that Ottawa will invest $100 million over the next three years to meet the needs of populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19, in addition to spending $45 million over two years developing national standards in the field. of mental health in consultation with the provinces.

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  • 140 million
    Funding provided over the next two years by Secretary of the Treasury Chrystia Freeland in her most recent Health Canada budget to continue providing virtual support in mental health and substance use through the Wellness Together Canada portal.

    Source: Canada Ministry of Finance

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