Access to Psychological Services for Canadians: Getting What Works to Work for Canada's Mental and Behavioural Health

By Cohen, Karen R.; Peachey, David | Canadian Psychology, May 2014 | Go to article overview

Access to Psychological Services for Canadians: Getting What Works to Work for Canada's Mental and Behavioural Health


Cohen, Karen R., Peachey, David, Canadian Psychology


The incidence and prevalence of psychological problems and disorders has been receiving increasing attention in Canada. The personal and financial costs of mental disorders on Canadians, their workplaces, and the economy are significant. Although we have psychological treatments that work, less than half of those with mental or behavioural health needs seek and receive help. That many more people need help than receive it results from stigma, but also because psychological treatments are not funded by provincial health care plans and, at best, are underfunded by privately funded health care insurance. This article provides an overview of a report recently commissioned by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), which proposes and costs out alternate models for enhancing access to psychological services for Canadians. It presents the report's recommendations and the CPA's advocacy action plan for 2013-2014 so that Canadians get better access to needed and effective psychological care.

Keywords: incidence, prevalence and cost of mental and behavioural disorders, effectiveness of psychological treatments, access to services, psychologists

Résumé

L'incidence et la prévalence des problèmes et des troubles psychologiques suscitent un intérêt grandissant au Canada. Les répercussions à la fois personnelles et financières des troubles mentaux sur les Canadiens, les milieux de travail et l'économie sont importantes. Bien qu'il existe des traitements psychologiques efficaces, moins de la moitié des gens présentant des problèmes mentaux ou comportementaux cherchent et obtiennent de l'aide. C'est dire que le nombre de gens ayant besoin d'aide est plus grand que celui des personnes qui en reçoivent. Pour certains, c'est la peur de la stigmatisation, mais pour d'autres, c'est le manque d'argent, car les traitements psychologiques ne sont pas financés par les régimes de santé provinciaux, et la couverture des régimes d'assurance-maladie privés, s'il y en a une, est insuffisante. Le présent article fournit un aperçu d'un rapport qu'a commandé récemment la Société canadienne de psychologie (SCP), lequel propose des modèles de rechange et leurs coûts, dans le but d'améliorer l'accès aux services psychologiques pour toute la population canadienne. Il comporte en outre les recommandations du rapport ainsi que le plan d'action 2013-2014 de la SCP en matière de représentation en vue d'obtenir un meilleur accès à des soins psychologiques efficaces.

Mots-clés : incidence, prévalence, coûts des troubles mentaux et comportementaux, efficacité des traitements psychologiques, accès aux services, psychologues.

When it comes to Canada's mental and behavioural health, met and unmet needs are increasingly front-of-mind for health systems, funders, the workplace, and the public. One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or disorder in a given year (Mental Health Commission of Canada and Risk Analytica, 2011), whereas one third of those with mental health problems will receive it (Statistics Canada, 2003). Mental disorders account for more of the global burden of disease than all cancers combined (Mood Disorders Society of Canada, 2009). When measured by years lost due to illness, depression is the leading cause of dis- ability internationally (Marcus, Yasamy, van Ommeren, Chisholm, & Saxena, 2012).

Depression is the fastest growing category of disability costs for Canadian employers (Mood Disorders Society of Canada, 2009). The estimated burden of mental illness, measured in health care utilization, disability costs, and reduced health-related quality of life is $51 billion annually (Lim, Jacobs, Ohinmaa, Schopflocher, & Dewa, 2008). The estimated lifetime cost of untreated childhood mental disorders is $200 billion (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2012). Despite the incidence, prevalence, and costs of mental disorders, spending on mental health in Canada has been measured at less than 5% of total health spending (Roberts & Grimes, 2011). …

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