Campaigns like “Let’s Talk” are all well and good when it comes to ending the stigma and launching a conversation. But it’s not enough to just talk about mental health. We urgently need to fix our system to provide better access treatment, prevention and education.

The Globe and Mail’s #OpenMinds Series has some practical, common-sense solutions that should be implemented:

  • Expanding access to publicly funded therapy
  • Using technology to deliver therapy into the homes of Canadians
  • Teaching the next generation about mental health
  • Giving youth early access to good clinical care
  • Providing affordable housing to those who need it

I agree with all of these. And I’d add a few:

  1. Healthcare is under provincial jurisdiction. But the Federal government DOES have the power to amend the Canada Health Act to include mental health. (No doubt the provinces would push back about it being an unfunded mandate, but studies show that these solutions would actually *save* the government money in the long run.) Amending the Act would rightly recognize the importance of mental health and would pressure provincial governments to provide better access to care across the country.
  2. Resources (funding, support groups, education) for caregivers are notably absent from this list. This is a big gap in our existing system. Being a caregiver is an enormous responsibility, and people with loved ones in their lives battling mental health problems need all the help they can get.
  3. Many people are afraid to seek treatment for mental health problems because they fear losing their jobs if their health issues become known. Both employees and employers need more education about their existing rights. And where loopholes exist in the laws, these need to be amended to ensure that nobody ever has to worry about being fired due to mental illness.
  4. We need to do a better job training police on how to deal with people with mental health issues. There are too many horror stories of people being killed, harmed, or shuffled into the criminal justice system when what they need is treatment, not enforcement.

According to the CAMH, mental illness costs the economy an estimated $51 billion per year, and affects an estimated 1 in 2 Canadians by age 40. Nearly 4000 Canadians commit suicide each year. There’s no doubt that we have a mental health crisis in this country. And it’s in our power to fix.

Let’s do better, Canada.

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This article in the Washington Post really gets at the crux of the difference in outlook between liberals and conservatives:

Chaffetz was articulating a commonly held belief that poverty in the United States is, by and large, the result of laziness, immorality and irresponsibility. If only people made better choices — if they worked harder, stayed in school, got married, didn’t have children they couldn’t afford, spent what money they had more wisely and saved more — then they wouldn’t be poor, or so the reasoning goes.

[ . . . ]

Since the invention of the mythic welfare queen in the 1960s, this has been the story we most reliably tell about why people are poor. Never mind that research from across the social sciences shows us, over and again, that it’s a lie. Never mind low wages or lack of jobs, the poor quality of too many schools, the dearth of marriageable males in poor black communities (thanks to a racialized criminal justice system and ongoing discrimination in the labor market), or the high cost of birth control and day care. Never mind the fact that the largest group of poor people in the United States are children. Never mind the grim reality that most American adults who are poor are not poor from lack of effort but despite it.

Conservatives believe in a meritocracy; people who get ahead do so because they “deserve” to, because they’ve worked hard and pulled themselves up by the proverbial bootstraps. The flip side to that is that poor people or the less successful are seen as also “deserving” of their failure, because they’re lazy, stupid, or otherwise unworthy.

Liberals tend to believe that success and failure are mostly based on factors completely outside of one’s control: Systematic and structural factors that set some people up with advantages that allow them to succeed despite themselves, and others with such insurmountable odds that it would take a miracle to defy them.

As usual, the real truth lies somewhere in between the two. A lot of our success or failure *is* structural and outside of our control. And our choices and actions do matter, but they’re not the only things that matter. I think so many people struggle with the notions of systematic discrimination and privilege simply because they don’t want to let go of feeling like they’re in control of their own lives. I get that. I really do. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to attack people for being poor, though.

Alain de Botton has a good TED talk about this, which is worth a watch if you have a few moments.

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Digital devices at the border: A guide for Canadians

03.01.2017

BCCLA has written a clear, easy-to-understand guide for Canadians about issues that are far from clear or easy to understand: The first thing to remember if you’re a Canadian travelling to the United States is that you do not have a free-standing right to enter the US. Many Canadians have been crossing the Canada-US border [...]

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How to fight fascism in the US

02.24.2017

It’s time to stop pointing out all the ways that Donald Trump is turning the US into a fascist state at worryingly break-neck speed. Fascism is here. The question is, what are we going to do about it? Let’s look at history to see what has worked to successfully fight fascist / totalitarian regimes.

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Bannon: Cabinet picks were meant to destroy their agencies

02.24.2017

Steve Bannon has admitted that Trump’s choices for his cabinet were deliberately set up to destroy the agencies that they were appointed to lead: In the clearest explanation for why nearly all of Trump’s cabinet choices are known mostly for despising and attacking the very Federal agencies they’ve been designated to lead, Bannon explained—in very clear [...]

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Taylor: “Times have changed” since our recommendation to ban religious headwear

02.14.2017

Charles Taylor admits he erred when he authored the Bouchard-Taylor recommendation to restrict religious symbols among public servants in positions of authority, saying that “times have changed”: In 2008, Taylor, along with sociologist Gérard Bouchard, signed a report that called for a ban on religious symbols worn by public servants in positions of coercive authority [...]

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USA: Land of the Free, 1776-2016

02.03.2017

RIP, America.  

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No, it’s not peace in the Middle East. But it’s something.

01.31.2017

One of the more positive effects of what’s been happening lately has been the coming together of the Muslim and Jewish Communities towards a common cause: A photo of two kids — a Muslim girl and Jewish boy — rallying for the same cause alongside their dads, warmed the hearts of audiences across social media. [...]

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Heather B and CHOM part ways

01.31.2017

So, I’m of two minds here about Heather Backman being let go from the CHOM morning show. On the one hand: Not very classy of Bell Media to lay her off right after the 5-year anniversary party. I know there’s never a good timing for a layoff, but this was especially poorly timed, IMHO. On [...]

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Quebec mosque shooting: Change the rhetoric

01.29.2017

La Presse is now reporting at least 4 6 deaths in the Ste-Foy Mosque shooting. It’s just sickening. We’ll know more about the suspect who was taken into custody soon enough. But this isn’t merely on the shooter. This is on all of us. We can do more — we MUST do more — to [...]

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