Mental health | A “parallel pandemic” in Canada

(Ottawa) The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a “parallel pandemic”: a worrying increase in the number of Canadians suffering from mental health problems.

Posted at 5:00

Joel Denis Bellavance

Joel Denis Bellavance
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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 believe that we will be able to experience a social and economic recovery without taking care of people’s mental health. It’s a sine qua non, “says Michel Rodrigue, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

“The data is clear: we are facing a pandemic that parallels mental health and substance use disorders. Unfortunately, access to mental health care was lacking even before the pandemic. And now we are in a situation where the mental health of Canadians has deteriorated. It is therefore a topic on which it is terribly important to investigate, ”she stressed.

Young families and children went through difficult times during the pandemic. They are likely to suffer the consequences of the health crisis for a long time, according to him.

It is unacceptable in a wealthy society like Canada and Quebec to have young people needing mental health services on a waiting list.

Michel Rodrigue, CEO of the Canada Mental Health Commission

According to the CSMC, no less than 35% of salaried people in Canada say they experience exhaustion. One in five workers feel in crisis or are worried about their ability to cope with the situation. And at least 30% of short- and long-term disability claims in the country are attributable to mental illness or mental health problems.

During the pandemic, the CSMC also asked PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct surveys at regular intervals to measure the severity of the situation. “The data shows that 46% of respondents say that mental health problems are a major difficulty at work. Among women, it’s even higher, at 50%, “Rodrigue said.

As provinces lift health restrictions and some employees begin returning to work face-to-face, the MHCC has released a toolkit for executives and employees to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and promote successful return, particularly in context of a hybrid workplace.

“We have to take care of it”

While welcoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to appoint a minister to his cabinet for the first time in charge of this file (Carolyn Bennett is Minister of Mental Health and Addiction), Rodrigue believes governments need to make new investments to improve access to services.

I recognize right away that all governments put a lot of pressure on health. But it’s really time to pay attention to mental health. The well-being of people, if we want to recover socially, economically, we must take care of it.

Michel Rodrigue, CEO of the Canada Mental Health Commission

Mr. Rodrigue was delighted that major political parties addressed the issue of mental health during the latest federal elections. He said he hopes this issue will also be discussed during the election campaign that begins in Ontario ahead of the June 2 vote and during the one in Quebec later in the fall.

In a written statement released as part of Mental Health Week, Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Minister Carolyn Bennett said the pandemic “continues to have significant effects on the mental health and substance use habits of children. our family, friends and co-workers. ”

“Now more than ever, everyone in Canada needs to have access to the services and supports they need, as well as effective tools, including credible and reliable information on mental health and substance use,” they said.

They noted that Ottawa will invest $ 100 million over the next three years to meet the needs of populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19, as well as spend $ 45 million over two years to develop national mental health standards in concert with the provinces. .

Learn more

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

    Source: Canadian Department of Finance

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