OTTAWA, October 27, 2016 - Political
leaders have a once in a generation opportunity to address an egregious
inequity in the Canadian health-care system, says Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health President Dr. Catherine Zahn, who called on federal and
provincial governments to make mental health the top priority in any new
national Health Accord.
“I watched the meeting of
the Health Ministers last week with great interest. I was pleased to hear that
both the federal and provincial government spoke about finding ways to increase
access to mental health care for all Canadians. But as my grandfather used to
say, talk’s cheap. To really do better, mental health must make it to the top
of the agenda for a Health Accord,” Zahn said in a speech today at
an Economic Club of Canada luncheon in Ottawa. “Without bold national
leadership at this most historic and opportune time, we’ll fail another
generation of Canadians. We are all waiting for a clear and powerful
declaration of intention and a collective plan to address this serious gap in
our healthcare system.”
Dr. Catherine Zahn speaking at an event from the Economic Club of Canada (archive photo)
In her speech, Zahn outlined
three opportunities provided by the Health Accord to address serious gaps in
the mental health care system.
First, dedicated funding for
fundamental research and innovation must be earmarked in a sustainable manner
in order to uncover the biological causes of conditions such as addiction,
depression, schizophrenia, autism and dementia—mental illnesses that
collectively cost the Canadian economy $51 billion annually.
Second, a national public
wait times standard for mental health must be initiated and continuously
monitored, in order to reduce wait times for mental health services across the
country. The mental health sector is ready to be held to the same standard as
the non-psychiatric healthcare system, Zahn said.
Third, the provincial and
federal governments must launch an access to care initiative that provides
structured psychotherapy with tight evaluation and accountability structures,
with a goal to list that intervention as medically necessary and publicly
funded within a reasonable time frame.
“How could we have ended up
with a publicly funded health care system that doesn’t cover effective
interventions for mental disorders – when we hold mental health as central to
all health?” Zahn said. “The patchwork of strategies and action plans hasn’t
driven the type of radical transformative change that we so desperately need.
Failure of a new federal-provincial Health Accord to include practical action
for mental health care would speak volumes – and it would be a grave
disappointment. It would perpetuate an injustice to Canadian citizens who live
with mental illness. It would fly in the face of the right of Canadians to
decent health care. And it would break any promise to do better.”
For more information
Sean O’Malley Media
Relations, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) (416) 595-6015 firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health
for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and
addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field.
CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health
promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and
addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a
Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating
Centre. For more information, please visit camh.ca or follow @CAMHnews on