New National Mental Health Coalition Joins CMHA Mental Health Week Campaign

'We are sick of waiting. We need improvements to the public drug plan system.'

ALBERTA, May 4, 2017 /CNW/ - For this year's annual Mental Health Week, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is using the theme Sick of Waiting: Get Loud for Mental Health to raise awareness around the issue of long waiting lists. It's a perfect opportunity for Canada's newest, precedent-setting mental health coalition to add its voice to the CMHA campaign. The Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication (CEADM) is calling for changes to Canada's public drug plan system, which currently is preventing many Canadians from getting the treatment they need to get better.

"CEADM was recently launched to raise awareness around access to innovative depression medications. Millions of Canadians are unable to get the help they need to get better because of long wait times for innovative medications to be approved — if they're approved at all," says Laureen MacNeil, CEADM's Alberta regional co-chair and Executive Director of the Calgary branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. "Joining CMHA's Sick of Waiting campaign provides an opportunity to spread CEADM's message about this inequity issue."

Created by mental health professionals and leaders, advocate, doctors, academics and people with lived experience, CEADM wants to: 

  • create awareness and recognition among policy-makers about the complexity of major depressive disorder and the effects of depression on Canadians' overall health;
  • highlight the inequity/fairness issue for many Canadians who rely on what is a broken public drug plan approval system; and
  • make better depression care a priority among policy-makers.

Three issues are preventing vulnerable Canadians from accessing the latest medications. Depression is complex, with 227 different combinations of symptoms, which means there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to treatment. A wide choice of therapy is critical to be able to find the best option for individual patients when it comes to treating mental illness. And, Albertans who depend on public drug coverage – those with low incomes, those on social assistance and seniors - are limited to a range of drugs that are available to treat depression.

"Our government is committed to improvement in mental health through the Mental Health Review. Providing access to the best individual treatment for vulnerable Albertans should be a priority," says David Grauwiler, CEADM member and Executive Director of CMHA Alberta.

"Depression is a significant public health issue. Canadians who don't have the benefit of private drug plans are sick of waiting for the drug plan system to be improved. Lending CEADM's voice to this year's Mental Health Week campaign will hopefully raise awareness about this important equity issue," says Ron Campbell, also regional co-chair for Alberta and a person with lived experience.

Members of Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication to date:

Phil Upshall, National Leadership Team; Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Dr. Patrick Smith, National Leadership Team; Canadian Mental Health Association

Jeff Moat, National Leadership Team; Partners for Mental Health

Ann Marie MacDonald, Regional Ontario Co-Chair; Mood Disorders Association of Ontario

Michael Landsberg, Regional Ontario Co-Chair; #SickNotWeak

Laureen MacNeil, Regional Alberta Co-Chair; Canadian Mental Health Association Calgary

Ron Campbell, Regional Alberta Co-Chair; person with lived experience

Dave Grauwiler, Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta

Camille Quenneville, Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario

Dr. Sid Kennedy, University Health Network

Pratap Chokka, Chokka Centre for Integrative Health

Bill Gaudette, formerly CMHA; Past Member, Provincial Mental Health Board (Alberta)

Brianne Moore; person with lived experience, Ontario

Jean-François Claude, #TheMensDen; person with lived experience, Ontario

SOURCE Coalition for Equitable Access to Depression Medication

For further information: For additional information, interviews, etc. please contact Joan Weinman, 613-294-5679.

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Coalition for Equitable Access to Depression Medication

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