One in five Canadians is affected by mental health problems, yet it is often misunderstood and under-treated.
One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness sometime during their lifetime, and the country loses billions of dollars each year on lost productivity due to mental health problems.
Yet Canada spends only 5 per cent of its health budget on mental health services and remains the only G-8 country without a mental health strategy, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
“Mental health affects us all,” Dr. Taylor Alexander, chief executive officer of CMHA, said in a news release.
“Canada loses some $51 billion dollars a year on lost productivity due to mental health problems. And studies continue to reveal that one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness sometime during their lifetime.”
The CMHA is still advocating for the federal government to create a national mental health system which is comprehensive, universal and integrated. An August 2008 survey conducted by Ipsos Reid for the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) revealed that almost three quarters of respondents agreed that funding to treat mental illness should be equal to funding for physical illnesses such as cancer.
Prescription: More awareness, less stigma
The lack of awareness about the prevalence of mental health problems — as well as the social stigma that often surrounds such disorders — can impede corporate fundraising efforts for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, according to Philip Upshall of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH).
“It boils down to society stigma,” Mr. Upshall told CanWest. “We still are unable as a society to talk about them even although they are becoming the single most common costly illness that our health-care system faces.”
And for people with mental health problems, the prevailing myths and social stigma can also present a barrier for treatment.
NEXT: The top 5 mental health myths
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