While this annual event has led to millions of dollars being raised, encouraged individuals to share their stories of lived experiences with mental illness, and helped to combat stigma in our society, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done to make meaningful changes that improve access to much needed public mental health services.
Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of CAMH - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, speaks just to this. In a recent article, she calls on us to take action and continue working towards change at the governmental level. As she states, it's time we advocate for political efforts and policies that prioritize mental health care, which would mean increased funding for more mental health services and programs, reducing long wait times and high rates of untreated patients, and increased support for mental health research and innovation.
"We need to question a publicly funded national health care system that does not cover effective treatments for mental illness—especially when governments of all levels claim that mental health is central to all health. Currently, there is no mechanism for Canadians, especially those with limited means, to access some of the most effective interventions. A commonly recommended form of structured psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, is generally covered in Canada through a third party insurance provider, or at a public hospital like CAMH. A good third-party insurance policy covers about one and a half sessions per year. Think about the absurdity of covering only one and a half sessions of chemotherapy or palliative care. Why should a lower standard for mental health care be acceptable to us? Access to evidence-based treatment like structured psychotherapy is a healthcare right—not a luxury—for the thousands of Canadians living with mental illness."