Subject: Canadians deserve better access to psychological services
As a constituent in your riding I am writing to express my concern about the need to improve access to psychological services for mental health problems and disorders.
The cost of mental health problems and disorders on the Canadian economy is significant:
- Mental disorders are a leading cause of disability in Canada and represent a significant burden that is estimated to cost the Canadian economy tens of billions per year.
- One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem in a given year - of these, the most common are anxiety and depression.
- Approximately 70% of mental disorders begin in childhood or adolescence. Providing effective and needed help early is critical.
- Psychological factors affect how well Canadians maintain health in general, prevent illness and manage chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and psychological disorders can accompany other kinds of illnesses.
- Approximately 40% of long term disability claims made to major employers are related to mental health problems. The fastest growing category of disability costs for Canadian employers is depression.
Some of the most effective treatments for common mental disorders – depression and anxiety – are psychological treatments. Yet Canadians, in particular those in lower and middle income levels, face significant barriers when it comes to accessing psychological services due to their cost of no supplemental insurance. The services of psychologists are not funded by provincial health insurance plans which make them inaccessible for many Canadians.
Canada’s private health care insurance plans and publicly funded programs don’t do enough to provide Canadians with equal and adequate access to urgently-needed psychological services. Canada’s governments and employers must do more to ensure that all Canadians – regardless of income – can access the psychological care they need.
Some governments have recognized this need. The United Kingdom has invested 400 million pounds over four years to make psychological therapies more accessible to its citizens, and Australia has also enhanced access to psychologists through its publicly funded health insurance plans. The government must act now to improve access to effective psychological services for mental health problems and disorders. Canada can no longer afford to short change the mental health of its citizens. It’s time to speak out and step up!