Cross Country Checkup

Are people who suffer from mental illness getting the support they need?

Mental illness has 'come out of the shadows' over the past ten years, and there's a desperate need for better services across Canada. Are governments - provincial and federal - doing enough for those suffering with mental illness?
Are we doing enough for those suffering with mental illness? (iStock)

It's not easy describing mental illness. Some who carry the burden of the disease call it the Beast or the Darkness. There are the clinical terms, such as schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder. But here's what's easier to grasp: lost jobs, lost loves and lost lives. That's because too often, mental illness spirals into human tragedy.

One in five Canadians will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Nearly a third of all hospital stays in Canada are due to mental disorders, with mood and anxiety disorders most common. 

We all pay the price. On any given day, more than 500,000 Canadians are unable to go to work due to mental health problems or illnesses. Mental illness casts a long shadow over our jails and emergency departments. When it comes to lost productivity and health costs, the Mental Health Commission of Canada has estimated it costs the country $50 billion per year.
Host of Cross Country Checkup, Duncan McCue.

The good news: mental illness HAS come out of the shadows in recent years. More and more people are talking about it, and diagnosis and treatments are improving. But, stigma remains. That's the number one reason why two-thirds of those living with a mental illness say they don't seek help.

The Prime Minister recently said, "There is no Canadian who doesn't have a friend or family member affected by mental health."

It's something Justin Trudeau understands intimately. His mother Margaret has struggled very publicly with bipolar disorder. But are governments — federal and provincial — stepping up to make mental health services accessible to all?

Whether it means creating mental health courts, housing the homeless with severe mental illness, ramping up mental health care on university and college campuses, or assisting First Nations struggling with high rates of suicide... is enough being done?

Our question today: Are people who suffer from mental illness getting the support they need?


Shane Partridge
He has battled mental health problems and addiction. He now helps others.
Twitter: @SPartridgeYXE

Chakameh Shafii
Co-founder and CEO of TranQool, a Canadian website for online therapy
Twitter: @TranQool

Natasha Bartlett
Senior manager of mental health and justice programs with Fred Victor, a charity that serves homeless and low-income people in Toronto.
Twitter: @FredVictorTO

Dr. Christopher Mushquash
Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Lakehead University, and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and Clinical Psychologist at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care.
Twitter: @DrMushquash

Louise Bradley
President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada
Twitter: @LouiseBradleyMH

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