The Alberta Mental Health Review Committee has presented their report Valuing Mental Health to the Minister of Health. The report if the culmination of six months of study and analysis, deliberation, and consultation with thousands of Albertans. The recommendations respond to a wide range of needs in both urban and rural communities, among culturally diverse groups including First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people and communities, and among other stakeholders.
The Case for Change
One in five Albertans experience an addiction or a mental illness, sometimes both, and the impact can be devastating. This can take a toll not only on the individual, but also on the broader community – family, friends, and colleagues at work and at school.
While we have come a long way from the days of institutionalizing the mentally ill, our attempts to address these issues over the past 20 to 30 years have fallen short. Over the years, many reports and recommendations have come and gone. There have been many talented professionals and caregivers, and a range of programs and partnerships that held real promise. Yet gaps remain in our system, and Albertans often encounter a system that is overwhelmed, fragmented, and reacting mostly to those in crisis.
- Almost half of Albertans have indicated at least one of their needs was not met when they tried to get help for addiction or mental health issues. The most common complaint was that they could not get counselling.
- Over half of the programs delivered or contracted by Alberta Health Services reported using one or more criteria to refuse client entry, and less than 30 per cent said they connected clients with another appropriate service on refusal.
- More than 60 per cent of people with addiction and mental health issues will not seek the help they need. Stigma is one of the main reasons for this,but the complexity of the system and lack of navigation support are also factors.
- Mental health promotion and addiction prevention – critical to reducing the incidence and severity of addiction and mental illness – accounts for only 0.1 per cent10 of costs related to the health care system.