Canadians Express Dissatisfaction with Publicly Funded Mental Health and Substance Use Services, Survey Reveals

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In a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH), mental health services across the country have received disheartening evaluations, with Canadians expressing dissatisfaction and assigning “failing grades” to publicly funded substance use services.

The findings are part of CAMIMH’s “National Report Card” survey, which evaluates mental health and substance use healthcare services in Canada based on access, confidence, satisfaction, and effectiveness.

The online survey, encompassing the opinions of over 3,000 Canadians, has assigned federal and provincial governments an ‘F’ for mental health services and a ‘D’ for substance use services. This marks CAMIMH’s second annual National Report Card survey on mental health services in Canada. The previous year’s respondents had given the country a ‘D,’ though that survey did not include assessments of substance use services.

Publicly Funded Mental Health and Substance Use Services

Florence Budden, co-chair of CAMIMH, commented on the report card, stating, “This report card tells us that all governments are not moving nearly fast enough nor making the necessary investments to improve timely access to mental health and substance use health services.”

She emphasized the dissatisfaction among Canadians, indicating a perception that the government is out of touch with meeting mental health and substance use health needs, emphasizing the need for urgent action.

The survey revealed that an overwhelming majority of Canadians (90%) consider finding and obtaining timely mental health treatment important. Additionally, 83% believe provinces should hire more mental health care providers.

In terms of substance use health services, three out of four Canadians (74%) stress the importance of timely access, while a similar proportion (72%) believe governments should support health-care workers with education on substance use.

Anthony Esposti, CEO of the Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA), a CAMIMH member, highlighted historical challenges for those with substance use health concerns.

He stated, “This report card reveals how services for people with substance use health concerns are lacking. Canadians deserve better, and CAMIMH members are committed to working with governments to improve the lives of the people in Canada.”

One critical aspect emphasized in the survey is Canada’s comparatively low spending on mental health care services when compared to other developed countries like France and the U.K. CAMIMH, in a released statement, called for increased government funding for mental health and substance abuse support and proposed new federal legislation to treat mental and physical health care with equal importance.

Ellen Cohen, co-chair of CAMIMH, urged more significant government involvement, stating, “Without additional sustained government funding and system innovation, a national legislative framework, enhanced public accountability and data measurement, Canadians will not see the critical changes they need to have timely access to mental health and substance use health care services. Our governments need to do more and act faster – failure cannot be an option.”

The survey outcomes underscore the urgency for comprehensive reforms in mental health and substance use health services across Canada. As Canadians voice their discontent, there is a growing demand for substantial government action and increased support for those grappling with mental health and substance use concerns. The findings of the survey call for immediate attention and a commitment to transformative changes in the nation’s healthcare landscape.



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