Federal funding of mental health for military personnel, Veterans and their families acknowledges unmet need say psychiatrists

Federal funding of mental health for military personnel, Veterans and their families acknowledges unmet need say psychiatrists

—Ottawa, ON, November 26, 2014—

The Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) welcomes the $200 million over five years for mental illness jointly announced by the Ministers of Veterans Affairs and National Defence last Sunday and the $5 million announced by Health Canada a day later. “This is an important first step towards responding to gaps in mental health services experienced by Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, particularly as they and their families transition from active service to Veteran status,” said Dr. Padraic Carr, CPA President.

According to the government of Canada the funds will be used for new and expanded mental health initiatives. Among other initiatives, this includes a new Operational Stress Injury clinic in Halifax and seven additional satellite clinics, increasing the capacity to digitize CAF member health records to speed the transfer of medical documents to VAC, a partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to develop a Veterans-specific Mental Health First Aid training program for veterans, their families and caregivers and a four-year pilot project that gives medically released CAF personnel and their families access to seven of 43 (32 in Canada, 11 abroad) Military Family Resources Centres for two years post release.

It also includes research into the transition from military to civilian life, Veteran suicide and treatments that promote faster recovery and better outcomes among Veterans, serving members and their families. Yesterday Health Canada further announced $5 million in research funding to support the health and well-being of military members, veterans and their families. This matches $5 million in private donations through the True Patriot Love Foundation to support direct research and targeted programming to improve the mental health and well-being of this population.

In the past, CPA has testified before the Standing Committee on National Defence on how to improve mental health services to CAF members, veterans and their families. CPA testimony has highlighted the need to better understand why military-related PTSD does not respond to treatment as well as civilian PTSD and how comorbidities (coexisting mental health and/or addictions problems) affect treatment outcomes. CPA has also pointed to the need for more frequent mental health screenings as well as better supports for Reservists and the families of CAF members and Veterans, many of whom struggle to find civilian services in underserviced areas.

“The CPA is pleased the Government of Canada’s newly announced initiative addresses some of the concerns we’ve highlighted in the past and looks forward to seeing this investment result in better mental health for Canada’s military members, veterans and families,” noted Dr. Carr.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association is the national voice for Canada’s 4,700 psychiatrists and more than 900 psychiatric residents. Founded in 1951, the CPA is dedicated to promoting an environment that fosters excellence in the provision of clinical care, education and research.

/ National Defence, PTSD, Veterans