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Mental Health Commission of
While mental illness accounts for about 10% of the burden of disease in Ontario, it receives just 7 per cent of health care dollars. Relative to this burden, mental health care in Ontario is underfunded by about $1.5 billion. This needs to be addressed.
A growing trend in the delivery of mental health services is the use of peer support workers. Peers, who have themselves experienced some kind of mental illness, can help meet some of the many needs that people with the most severe mental illnesses have. However, various ideological agendas have led the internationally powerful peer support movement in questionable directions.
Thanks to political correctness, we often talk about mental health problems and issues rather than illnesses. Issues are something that policy wonks write papers about (which is what happens now) whereas illnesses are much more serious and require the intrusion of medicine and science.
One of the biggest complaints that families of the mentally ill have is the failure of the health system to provide them with information. Families provide ongoing care, support and housing,and yet the privacy legislation in most jurisdictions in both Canada and the U.S. prohibit staff from talking to them.
One issue that needs to be discussed in this long election period is Canada's abysmal record dealing with mental illness. Despite Prime Minister Harper having established a Mental Health Commission in 2007 in order to act as "a catalyst for improving the mental health system," our record is abysmal.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) announced in April that the Hon. Michael Wilson was taking over as chair. He knows the pain of being a family member and of advocating for improvements which are ignored. What troubles me is the press release which says the MHCC will continue in its role of "advancing the promotion of mental health -- and the prevention of mental illness."
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has just released the first of two reports on indicators showing how poorly we treat those with mental illness in Canada. I really have to ask why, as this is something we already know.
Every week, more than a half-million Canadians miss work because of mental health problems, costing the Canadian economy over $50 billion a year. So there's good reason why the Economic Club of Canada teamed up with business leaders and mental health organizations to launch the Wellth Management Mental Health at Work Challenge this fall in cities across the country.
Mental health exists on a continuum from existential angst of the worried well to the serious illness of schizophrenia -- a disease of the brain. There is a concept in medicine of triage -- the one who is sickest and in most danger gets treated first and with the most resources. In mental health, that should be those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and the other serious and debilitating illnesses and not those with existential angst.
Psychotic disorders are frequently accompanied by significant and disabling cognitive losses. Why don't people learn about these cognitive losses? This lack of information has enormous negative consequences. For instance, families who have not been told about these cognitive losses, may have very different interpretations of a family member's difficulties in keeping a room clean or in not relaying phone messages. Parents will respond differently to these kinds of situations if they learn that this behaviour isn't willful, but is symptomatic of an ongoing brain disorder.