Thursday, 10 August 2017 09:10

Governments need to provide the leadership on mental health treatment

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Mental health is no longer that phony, make-believe issue that critics used to chastise as a reason for people “having issues” or serious personality or behavioral flaws.

Mental health needs official treatment and addressing by those in charge. It is finally starting to get the recognition that it deserves in regards to importance in a healthy, daily life and is the root cause to some disturbing numbers as per some government and Canadian Mental Health survey information.
Mental illness is caused by a "complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors." We all know about the environmental factors. There are a lot of economic, health/drug related issues and coupled with the increasing professional and personal competitiveness where everything negative is immediate and in your face constantly — day to day routines are becoming more complicated, intense and pressured filled.
However, it is the biological and genetic ones which need the attention and respect and it seems governments are actually starting to pay attention and understand.
According to a recent statistics provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association, by age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness. schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population. anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment; suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds. and is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age. The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.
What's even more disappointing is that almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem. Generally this is due to stigma or being taught to just 'tough it out" or get over whatever was bothering yo.
While it's improving, the largest hurdle for those dealing with, treating or knows someone with mental health issues, is not only stigma not from ourselves but by government. Some governments are starting to realize the importance mental health has and are changing the way they fund mental health programs.
As part of the Premiers' Summit July 18 in Edmonton the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union (CFNU) as well as members of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) met with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to talk about the state of health care in Canada in a briefing called Access through Innovation: Maximizing Federal Mental Health Funding.
As well, there is a CMHA conference set for Sept. 18-20 in Toronto. The Mental Health for All Conference has a theme of "It Takes a Nation " where the CMHA will be lobbying the federal government to do more to help find mental health programs, treatment and education.
Mental health is finally coming out of the shadows both amongst the public and with provincial and federal leaders. As well it should be.
The statistics continue to be rather alarming.
While the old prevailing thought used to be that mental health was if not unimportant but a waste of time or perhaps fabrication or overdramatization by the complainant.
Even if you are unconvinced about issues caused by poor mental health, the economic numbers don’t lie. 
The premiers heard on July 18 mental illness costs the Canadian economy upwards of $50 billion per year.
According to the CMHA, this includes "health care costs, lost productivity, and reductions in health-related quality of life." Individuals with a mental illness are much less likely to be employed. Unemployment rates are as high as 70% to 90% for people with the most severe mental illnesses.  In any given week, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems.
According to a Globe Newswire story, the July 18 Premiers Summit had statistics announcing showing that 20% of Canadian children and youth will develop a mental illness by age 25, 43% of Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness over the course of their lifetime, and 50% of family doctors’ time is spent addressing mental health issues or illnesses.
While Donald Trump is talking tough about North Korea, there’s unemployment, the economy is shaky, and the ever-increasing cost of living are all important issues, the federal and provincial governments have to realize the importance of trying to assist in the improvement of mental health. That means coming up with concrete strategies in order to diagnose, treat and then sustain patients who fall to mental illness. Mental illness is more than just issues. Hopefully the stigma around mental problems is waning in not only society but with government as well.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor