B.C. mental health group unfurls 'manifesto' to improve care

The B.C. chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association says the province needs to do a better job of addressing mental health because access to treatment is not adequate.

Manifesto lists concrete actions to improve B.C.'s mental health care system

Canadian Mental Health Association publishes a manifesto calling on the province to make mental health a bigger priority. One youth shares her experience living with mental illness and her challenges in getting treatment. 7:02

The B.C. chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association is unveiling a 'manifesto' to unite British Columbians in improving health care for those suffering from mental illness and addiction.

The manifesto outlines a concrete set of actions to remedy what CEO Bev Gutray says is a severely limited mental health response system.

"I think all British Columbians know that day-to-day. We have friends, we have colleagues at our workplace who knock on the door trying to find help, and that help means long waits or it means waiting till a crisis," she said.

Bev Gutray is the CEO of the BC chapter of Canadian Mental Health Association. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

She said it is not just a lack of provincial funding, it's the way that funding is spent. For example, she points out school guidance counsellors are often on the frontline to help children and youth deal with mental health issues.

"[Counsellors] have very limited time to be able to spend with children and families and youth," she said. "If we could expand their time, they're really a nice first door."

The manifesto was released to coincide with the organization's year-long b4stage4 campaign — a policy that advocates for early intervention for young British Columbians.

Contents of the manifesto

The manifesto includes five core principles:

  1. Focus on prevention and early intervention and make sure people do not have to wait for months to receive help
  2. Build access to addictions health care
  3. Strengthen recovery closer to home in community, including implementing a provincial housing strategy
  4. Improve crisis care by reducing the number of suicides in B.C. and reducing the use of police and the justice system as treatment for people living with mental illness
  5. The province should appoint a dedicated Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to provide leadership

With files from The Early Edition

To hear the interview, click on the link labelled Canadian Mental Health Association's releases manifesto for better mental health