The Canadian Psychological Association issued the following news release:

Canada’s Mental Health: The Right Service Where and When Canadians Need it

The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) commends the Globe and Mail
for its June 2008 excellent series on mental health in Canada. The
participation of the country’s leading media in profiling this pressing
national health concern is tremendously important. The CPA applauds
those people whose generous sharing of their experiences has made the
coverage so compelling and meaningful.

One in five Canadians will experience a mental disorder or condition
during their lifetimes. Of these, the most commonly experienced
conditions will be anxiety and depression. States CPA President, Dr.
Catherine Lee, “In Canada there is an urgent need for people to have
access to mental health services when and where they need them. In
addition to severe conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar
disorder, many Canadians are debilitated by depression and anxiety.
According to the World Health Organization, by 2020, depression will be
the second leading cause of disability adjusted life years for all ages
and both sexes (second to heart disease). One of the most powerful tools
we have to reduce the stigma of mental disorder is to make it acceptable
for Canadians to seek the growing number of effective services that can
help them manage or recover from their symptoms. Many of those suffering
from mental disorders do not receive services; others suffer for years
before they receive help. Early intervention, or better yet, prevention,
is the key to reducing suffering and the burden of mental disorder.”

In addressing Canada’s mental health needs, it is not only essential to
make it acceptable to ask for help, we must provide people with access
to the help they need. Research has shown that for the most common
mental disorders, anxiety and depression, psychological therapies such
as cognitive behavioural therapy are the treatments of choice. For some
other mental health conditions, a combination of psychotherapy and
medication is more effective than either intervention alone.
Unfortunately, not all Canadians who need these services have access to
them. There are important barriers to accessing services from
psychologists. Dr. Karen Cohen, Executive Director of the CPA explains
“We have public medical insurance plans in Canada rather than public
health insurance plans. We provide public access to particular services
by designated providers. We do not necessarily provide public access to
the needed service by the provider trained to deliver it.” Other
countries have increasingly recognized this need. As of 2006, public
health insurance in Australia covers services provided by registered
psychologists. The UK has undertaken to spend £170 million on improving
access to psychological therapies by 2011.

Psychologists are Canada’s largest group of regulated and specialized
mental health care providers. The services of psychologists working in
private practice (an increasing number because of pressures and cuts to
public institutions) are not covered by public health insurance plans.
Although the country’s psychologists are very successfully self-employed
and wait lists for their private sector services are not uncommon, CPA
and Canadian psychologists are concerned about access for those
Canadians who cannot afford psychological services. A compelling example
is the wait lists that exist in many of the country’s public schools for
psychoeducational assessments or psychological interventions because of
the decreasing number of resource professionals, like psychologists,
employed by the country’s school boards. Early intervention for learning
disabilities, autism and other mental health conditions is extremely
important to mitigating the course the condition will take and to the
impact the condition will have on a child’s life.

Access to needed mental health service is an issue of paramount
importance to the CPA, its provincial and territorial partner
associations and Canada’s over 14,000 registered psychologists. States
Dr. Catherine Lee, “Canadians who experience mental health problems
deserve to receive the best indicated mental health service where and
when they need it. Canada’s psychologists have a responsibility and
commitment to meet those needs.”

For information about mental health problems and conditions, visit CPA’s
fact sheets at
http://www.cpa.ca/public/yourhealthpsychologyworksfactsheets/

For information about deciding whether and how to consult a psychologist
and what to expect, visit
http://www.cpa.ca/public/

Links to provincial and territorial associations of psychology that
often maintain referrals services to care can be found at
http://www.cpa.ca/public/provincialandterritorialassociations/

For more information:
Dr. Karen Cohen
Executive Director, Canadian Psychological Association
141, Laurier Ave. W., Suite 702 Ottawa, ON K1P 5J3
(613) 237-2144 ext. 322
cpa@cpa.ca
www.cpa.ca

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