March for Mental Health Saturday May 6th

On Saturday, May 6, during Mental Health Week, a large group of Canadian citizens, led by nine Toronto-based mental health advocates, will come together at Nathan Phillips Square prior to marching to Queen’s Park to demonstrate the extreme importance of improving our mental health care system, and to call on our governments to implement much-needed reform in order to save lives.


1 in 2 Canadians will have experienced a mental illness by the time they reach 40 years of age, yet only 1/3 of those facing mental health challenges access help. This is even worse among our youth, as wait times for children’s mental health services in Ontario are as high as 18 months in some parts of the province. The recent federal health accord committed 5 billion additional dollars to mental health care over the next 10 years – Ontario’s share is 1.92 billion dollars. While this sounds like a substantial amount, and it’s a great start, when broken down among the population of Ontario it represents only about $14 per person per year. Too many Canadians are falling through the cracks due to a lack of funding and availability of services, resulting in staggering economic and human costs – 50 billion dollars and almost 4,000 lives per year – which does not include the additional 210 Canadians who attempt suicide every day, or the estimated 77-100 bereaved “Survivors” of every suicide whose lives are profoundly affected.


Spending on mental healthcare in Canada is just over 7% of the healthcare budget, well below other Western countries; spending in the UK is 13%. The Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends an increase to 9%. With the creation of a National Suicide Prevention Strategy, as well as increased funding and improved access to a full range of mental health services and supports accessible to every person in Ontario, lives can be saved, as 80% of those who receive treatment for a mental illness respond well.


On May 6, 2017, we will call on both the provincial & federal governments to act on the urgency of this issue by implementing these improvements. In addition, we will be requesting that they comply with the orders given by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for First Nations children. It’s time for mental health to be treated no differently than physical health in Canada. If you broke your arm, you would not expect to wait over a year to have it casted. If you urgently needed your appendix removed, you would not wait a year for surgery. If you needed chemotherapy or radiation to treat cancer, you would not be forced to wait for treatment. Care and treatment for mental illness deserves, and needs, the same level of urgency before thousands more lives are lost.


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