OTTAWA -- Prevention and treatment of mental illness in Canada is an issue that deserves more attention, says the Green Party of Canada. Mental Illness Awareness Week is an important reminder to Canadian policy makers of the seriousness of mental health to Canadians. The Green Party acknowledges that mental illness is a disease, like any other disease such as cancer, and thereby requires a concerted national strategy for prevention and treatment.
“The Green Party would undertake a full cost accounting of the costs to society of mental illness as a means to demonstrate that devoting resources to early treatment and prevention is by far more cost-effective than the current approach by politicians of ignoring or scrimping on services available to the mentally ill and their families,” said Valerie Powell, Green Party Mental Health Critic. “This would be our first step towards a comprehensive Canadian Mental Health Strategy.”
Among the collateral costs of mental illness are: breakdown of the family unit, failure at school, failure to earn a living, juvenile and adult delinquency, addiction, and physical illness, not to mention the cost of wasted human potential. Of special importance is the crisis in mental health suffered in First Nations communities, as evidenced by the high rate of adolescent and young adult suicide. More recently it has been estimated that at least 15% of students in Canadian universities suffer from mental illness.
“An estimated 20% of Canadians 65 and older are living with a mental illness and up to 80% or 90% of nursing home residents have some form of mental illness or cognitive impairment. The Green Party supports growing awareness, support and treatment for Canadians of all ages with mental illness and addictions,” explained Ms. Powell.
The Green Party also acknowledges that growing up and residing in healthy, socially just and equitably functioning communities will promote mental health. Protecting the natural environment and insisting on preserving the right for all Canadian citizens to use nature as a facilitating space will in the end have positive implications for the mental health of generations to come.