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October 10, 2020

On World Mental Health Day, We Want More Funding for Mental Wellness

Every year on October 10th, organizations across the globe observe the World Health Organization’s “World Mental Health Day”.  This year, that day comes during a time of enormous uncertainty and societal upheaval as a result of COVID-19.

Over the past year, many of us have faced new stresses and barriers to maintaining our mental wellness. We’re more socially isolated, many of us are facing economic challenges and of course there is the very real threat of COVID-19. With these new pressures, the theme of this year’s World Mental Health day is increasing investment in mental health. 

At OPDI, we believe increasing funding for mental health and addictions services is more important than ever. In a recent poll, half of Canadians reported their mental health had worsened as a result of the pandemic. Research from the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre conducted earlier this year found that rates of anxiety and depression were on the rise. And weekly rates of overdoses and opioid related deaths are up to 35-40%, according to Ontario’s Chief Coroner. 

Amidst these pressures, we need increased funding for mental health and addictions support. 

The Government of Ontario recently announced it would be investing $176 million this year to help expand access for mental health and addictions services during COVID-19. This is a step in the right direction – however it falls short of the government’s earlier commitment to investing $3.8 billion dollars in mental health and addiction support over the next 10 years. 

As pointed out by a collective of leading mental health organizations including Addictions and Mental Health Ontario, Ontario Shores and CMHA, even before the onset of COVID-19 more than one million people in Ontario experienced mental health and addiction challenges every year. Ontarians were also facing wait times of up to 2.5 years to access services and deferring to emergency rooms in crisis before the onset of the pandemic. 

We need more funding for mental health and addiction services and a comprehensive plan for protecting the mental wellness of Canadians through COVID-19 and beyond. We need to get out of the emergency room and connect Canadians with continuous care. 

Today, let’s all come together to amplify the message of World Mental Health Day: we need more funding for mental wellness now!

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