On Jun. 3, CPA president Dr. Georgina Zahirney appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians’ mental health and describe how it has exacerbated structural inequities in the health care system for people with mental illnesses.
Despite new mental health support initiatives and greater appreciation of the impact of psychosocial stress, bed shortages, scarce community supports, and unstable, overcrowded or unsafe living situations are longstanding issues that have disproportionately affected the most vulnerable Canadians during the pandemic.
CPA recommended four priorities for the government to address the unmet mental health needs of Canadians:
- Evidence-based approaches such as Housing First to shift people from crisis and institutional services to appropriate housing options in the community that are flexible, available, affordable, and titrated to the needs of individuals.
- More appropriately-resourced acute psychiatric beds.
- Community-based programs and support services such as ACT for those with mental illness to assist them to transition successfully from inpatient care, institutions, or homelessness to the community.
- Research into the efficacy of virtual care as a mode of intervention for people with psychosocial impairments, as well as attention to practical aspects related to provision of virtual care.
Read the CPA brief.