Will the Pandemic Result in Universally Funded Mental Health Care?

January 07, 2021, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Man in Gray Long Sleeve Shirt Sitting on Brown Wooden ChairSince the COVID-19 Pandemic was declared in March 2020, we have heard repeated warnings of Canadians' decline in mental health. People began the pandemic feeling anxious, nervous and scared. This was most clearly demonstrated by the rush on grocery stores at the end of February and at the beginning of March. For a couple of months, Canadians who were accustomed to a very steady food supply, were faced with shortages of meat, toilet paper, cleaning products, milk and bread. Lines were long to get into stores, and limits were placed on many items in stores.

As the number of people laid off or losing their jobs began to mount stress levels went even higher. People faced the loss of income and benefits, banks were allowing extended breaks from mortgage repayments, credit card companies and other loan holders became ‘flexible’ to stave off widespread bankruptcies. The federal and provincial governments were throwing money at unprecedented rates into new income subsidy and small business loan programmes.

As summer started people seemed to rebound a bit. Restrictions were raised and friends and family were easier to visit outdoors in a safe manner. The psychological tolls were beginning to mount though. Deaths from overdose have mounted. The provincial and federal governments and agencies like Bell Let’s Talk and the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) as well as many others were aggressively promoting mental health wellness and crisis lines. If one good thing has come from the pandemic it is the openness of discussions about mental health and well-being.

We know that more Canadians than ever have been reporting struggling with their mental health. As we enter the second wave of the pandemic the stress on those who provide mental health counselling is mounting. Hospitals, doctors and many other health care professionals are under strain. Hospitals are now reporting that they have full ICUs and record admission numbers from COVID-19 patients. The situation will continue to worsen until we have mass vaccinations against the virus.

The social isolation of people, the stress on individuals mentally and economically, and the lack of available resources for care equal a recipe for disaster for many people. According to several surveys conducted in 2020, the number of people reporting anxiety is up 20%, rates of depression are up 10%, and reported rates of alcohol and drug consumption rates are up dramatically as people are self-medicating. The most alarming increase was noted in suicidal thoughts. In October of 2020 10% of CMHA’s surveyed individuals had contemplated suicide. This is four times the number from Statistics Canada data in 2019.

In response to the mental health crisis in Ontario, the provincial government announced $323 million in mental health funding for this year with almost half being special one-time funding to increase the mental health capacity for treating COVID-19 issues. What is lacking though is universal funding for mental health care in Canada. Publicly funded psychological care or physiotherapist care is not available in Ontario. Only psychiatrist care is funded and the waitlists are enormous, or care is simply not available.

With a record of 40% of Ontarians admitting they are undergoing mental health issues, it may be time to revisit what kind of mental health care is funded and how that care fits in the broader scheme of health care in Ontario.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, COVID

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About Deutschmann Law

Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

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