It is time that mental illness and mental health are positioned prominently within both health and social policies.
- Reflects a consensus perspective of consumer, family, and service provider organizations about what needs to be done and how. As such it is focused on a common goal based on the common areas of agreement among the many stakeholders rather than who has the best answer to the complex challenges in meeting the needs of persons living with mental illness and to improve population mental health.
- Is based on the agreement that the continuum of mental illness and mental health must be addressed in reform strategies. This includes both the continuum of services and support systems for persons with a mental illness AND the determinants of health and the need to protect, promote and restore mental health.
- There is a huge gap between the services and supports Canadians living with mental illnesses currently receive and that which they need;this gap will grow and bring on significant additional social costs if nothing is done.
- The basis for these dire predictions are sound; despite the lack of a surveillance system in Canada there is excellent international evidence that the disease burden from mental illness is the most significant public health issue facing developed countries.
- It will not take long to measure the more precise degree of inequity in access to services and supports dependent on where a person lives, their cultural origins, age, etc. in Canada. Consumers, families, community groups, and professionals have long been reporting these inequities.
- There is universal agreement that these needs are real; that these needs are critical, and that meeting these needs is urgent.
- Better emphasis on prevention and mental health promotion can improve population health outcomes.
Other countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the US have begun to address mental illness and mental health on a national level; it is time for Canada to catch up.One the single most significant barriers to securing a national action plan seems to be the division of powers between provinces and the federal government for health and social services. This should not be an excuse to ignore the need for a coherent approach that meets the needs of Canadians equitably. There are already vehicles in place within which all provinces, territories, the federal government, with the support of NGO stakeholders, can work together to develop a consensus-based National Action Plan for Mental Illness and Mental Health for Canada. Governments have been able to agree on other national strategies for important public health and social issues, such as a Children’s Agenda through the Social Union Framework, and the federal government itself has done much more for a number of other equally significant population health issues.CAMIMH as a coalition of NGO groups offers governments a united coalition of front line stakeholders with whom it can work to ensure that the plan reflects the real issues and needs across the spectrum and appropriately addresses the continuum of mental illness and mental health.
- Better access to essential services,
- Addressing determinants of health,
- Addressing critical role of social support and self help, inclusion- citizenship
- Combating stigma
- Building an effective research and information infrastructure
- Promoting public education and awareness
- Developing a national policy framework for improved care, services, supports and health promotion strategies, including support of innovations, development of national guidelines, benchmarks or other indicators, human resources, and an accountability framework
- Building capacity for a national research agenda
- Establishing and maintaining a national data / information system