Opening Eyes, Opening Minds report released on World Mental Health Day
October 10, 2012 (Toronto) –
Mental illnesses and addictions take more of a toll on the health of Ontarians
than cancer or infectious diseases, according to a new report by the Institute
for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario – yet this burden could
be reduced with treatment, say scientists from the Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health (CAMH).
“The majority of people with
mental illness or addiction aren’t receiving treatment, even though effective
interventions are available,” says report co-author Dr. Paul
Kurdyak, Chief of General and Health Systems Psychiatry at
CAMH, and Adjunct Scientist at ICES. “For instance, only a small fraction of
people with depression or alcohol use disorders are accessing health services.”
“If such a low percentage of
people with diabetes were receiving treatment, there would be a public outcry.”
Released today, the report Opening Eyes, Opening Minds, shows that
the overall burden of mental illness and addictions in Ontario is 1.5 times
higher than all cancers and seven times higher than all infectious diseases.
“The reasons for this burden
are because mental illnesses and addictions emerge at a young age, they are
highly disabling and prevalent in society, and they can last a lifetime,” says
In Ontario, depression had the highest burden
of all nine conditions measured in the report. Its burden was more than the
combined impact of lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. The problem
is world-wide, with the World Health Organization drawing attention to untreated
depression a “global crisis” as its theme for World Mental Illness Awareness
“Approximately 60 to 65 per
cent of people with depression, and as many as 90 per cent of those with
alcohol use disorder, remain untreated,” says Dr. Kurdyak. “Yet there are
effective therapies available for people suffering from these disorders.”
Alcohol use disorders
accounted for 88 per cent of all mental illness and addiction-attributable deaths
in Ontario and
91 per cent of years lost due to early death.
“People don’t seek care
because of stigma around these disorders, particularly for problematic alcohol
use,” says Dr. Jürgen Rehm, co-author of the report and Director of CAMH’s
Social and Epidemiological Research Department. “This report reinforces the
need for changes, such as strengthening the role of family physicians in treatment,
exploring effective approaches from other jurisdictions, and reducing stigma so
that people begin to ask for help.”
Burden refers to the impact
of an illness on reducing life expectancy and quality of life, based on factors
such as pain, functioning and social relations, among others. Using the same
methodology as earlier reports on the burden of cancer and infectious diseases,
burden was calculated using a measure called a health-adjusted life year (HALY),
which shows the amount of healthy life lost.
Overall, the nine conditions
measured in the report contributed to the loss of more than 600,000 HALYs in Ontario. In addition to
alcohol use disorders and depression, conditions examined were bipolar
disorder, social phobia, schizophrenia, panic disorder, agoraphobia, cocaine
addiction and prescription opioid misuse. Opening
Eyes, Opening Minds: The Ontario
Burden of Mental Illness and Addictions Report is the most thorough
evaluation of the impact of mental illness and addictions on Ontarians to date.
“However, there is hope and
it’s important to remember that these conditions are treatable. If we increase
the likelihood that people seek and get timely access to treatments, the burden
for individuals and the entire population will be reduced,” says Dr. Kurdyak.
To view a copy
of the Ontario Burden of Mental Illness and Addictions Report, visit the ICES website or the PHO website at www.oahpp.ca.
Media Contact: Michael Torres, CAMH Public Affairs, 416
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
(CAMH) is Canada's
largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the
world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health.
CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health
promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and
CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health
Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.