Mental Health and the Government: Are We Doing Enough?
Is the government doing enough when it comes to mental health? With events like #BellLetsTalk and Mental Health Week it’s easy to think that plenty is being done to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness. And, yes, while we are progressing as a society in terms of understanding mental health and helping those who struggle with a mental illness. #BellLetsTalk, for example, reported on their site that “Bell’s funding of $500,000 will be used towards expanding the Ride Asset Development Loan Fund across communities in Ontario and building a strategic plan to extend the program nationally across Canada.” But, as reported in July of 2015 by The Globe and Mail in an article titled, “How to Fix It”, we’re still a long way away from helping the way we should be.
Included in some of the statistics provided, an estimated 70% of mental health problems are believed to begin in childhood or adolescence. In addition, 75% of children “don’t access services and treatments – despite the fact that children who experience mental health illnesses and problems are at much high risk of experiencing them as adults and are more likely to have other complicating health and social problems.” This brings up an interesting point given that, even though I only acknowledged my mental health issues during my first year in university, I was actually dealing with anxiety ever since I was eight. And I didn’t deal with any of the things until 11 years later because I didn’t understand what was going on and I didn’t know who to speak to.
Now, these statistics also stretch out into the Housing First Initiative. As also reported by The Globe and Mail, the annual cost of the HFI for the “most severely mentally ill clients with the highest needs” is $19,582. In an interview from the same article, Steve Lurie, executive director of the Toronto branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, stated that, “not only is there a right to safe, affordable housing but it should be a centerpiece of mental health.” The article went on to report that, “more than 10,416 people are waiting for supportive housing, roughly half are homeless or house precariously and some people, [Lurie] says, have been on that list for as long as five years.” Lurie concluded by saying that, “giving people their own place to live not only makes good public policy, it makes good economic sense.”
While we are on the right path to healing and making the world a more supportive place for those struggling with mental illnesses, much still needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to how to help and how to iron out the rough spots of mental health treatment. But, we are on the path to healing.