“We were underwater before, but now it’s literally a tsunami,” says area mental health provider

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CMHAWW calls for more funding to meet 35-40% increase in demand for mental health services since pandemic onset

As of Wednesday morning, 3,824 people are waiting for mental health care in the Guelph, Wellington and Waterloo areas.

All of these people have completed an assessment with the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHAWW), however, due to a backlog, these people are waiting for access to continuing care and services.

This figure does not include people who called in a crisis, as those called receive an immediate response.

Helen Fishburn, CEO of CMHAWW, said the pandemic has completely changed the baseline for mental health and addiction, pushing the estimate of one in five Canadians who will personally experience a Mental Health unimportant problem or illness, as she believes that number is approaching four in five Canadians.

“That’s not to say that four in five Canadians have a diagnosable mental health problem, but you are looking at the level of disruption, the level of distress, and the significant impact COVID-19 has had on people’s lives.” , Fishburn said.

Since the start of the pandemic, the CMHAWW has seen a 35-40% increase in calls per month, from an average monthly before the pandemic of 3,500 to 4,000 calls to 6,000 and 6,500 per month.

The CMHAWW calls on the Ford government to take further action, including increased funding to fill the budget gaps that allow mental health funding to slip through.

“Over the past 18 months we’ve had calls from people who’ve never needed help before, and thousands and thousands of people, so this is the new normal for mental health. and outbuildings, ”Fishburn said. “We were underwater before, but now it’s literally a tsunami. “

Marking the start of a new legislative session, the government of Premier Doug Ford had the opportunity to present a roadmap to recovery, which Fishburn said did not emphasize enough the need to support the sector community health and addictions.

Ford’s Speech from the Throne, delivered by the Lieutenant Governor. Elizabeth Dowdeswell on October 4 highlighted the economic recovery of COVID, supporting healthcare and long-term care systems and celebrating the vaccine rollout while asserting that the “ultimate goal shared by all” is to ” avoid future blockages.

“The government must fund a comprehensive mental health and addictions system in Ontario to be able to meet these changing needs,” said Fishburn.

Grouped under the category of health care, the Speech from the Throne failed to recognize the mental health crisis, failing to address concerns raised by groups such as CMHA.

A fully funded mental health and addictions system, according to Fishburn, would see funding flow into a system of care, similar to what is seen when a person is diagnosed with cancer and receives coordination of care. and access to someone who can relieve and help with the treatment plan by connecting the care rooms.

“They have someone who acts as the glue in their treatment plan and who connects them and all parts of their care. We don’t have that in the mental health and addictions system, ”Fishburn said.

In the Region of Waterloo, Guelph and Wellington, there are 11 officially funded mental health and addiction providers who are all connected through the Here 24/7 service.

According to three rounds of CMHA Ontario public polls, the pandemic is a serious mental health and addiction issue, with nearly 80% of Ontarians believing the province will face a serious mental health crisis when the pandemic will be over.

Budgetary funds allocated to the fight against mental health do not reflect these polls. However, of the $ 69.8 billion in core health sector funding outlined in the Ford government’s budget, only 5.8% goes to the community health and addictions sector.

When the budget was released in March of this year, additional funding of $ 175 million in 2021-22 as part of the historic 10-year investment of $ 3.8 billion for mental health services and addiction control has been included.


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