TORONTO, Jan. 30, 2018 /CNW/ - Mental health and addiction care providers across Ontario are at the breaking point trying to meet the needs of those seeking treatment and services, says the provincial group that represents 220 community mental health and addiction organizations. Pointing to the growing demand and decreasing capacity, Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO) is calling on the provincial government to make mental health and addictions a priority, and invest Where Change Happens.
"Frontline community organizations across Ontario provide mental health and addiction care for over 500,000 Ontarians. But funding has not kept pace with the increase in demand and costs of operating these critical programs," said Gail Czukar, CEO of AMHO. "This has stretched our resources too thin, resulting in long wait lists. When care cannot be accessed where a person needs it, they end up in the hospital, jail or sometimes even worse."
"Thanks to awareness campaigns such as Bell Let's Talk, we are making real progress reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction. But when people make the call for help, instead of finding services, too often they find wait lists," continued Czukar. AMHO pointed to recent data, which shows wait times for treatment and services continue to increase as community mental health and addiction providers struggle to keep up with demand:
- Ontarians in parts of the province routinely wait six months to well over a year for community mental health and addiction services and supports.
- Hospital emergency department visits by people with a mental health and addiction problems have increased by 21% in the last five years.
- Emergency department visits and hospitalizations by children and youth with mental illness and addiction have gone up by approximately 65% over the last 10 years.
- In Toronto alone, there are over 13,000 people waiting an average of five years for one of the city's mental health and addiction supportive housing units.
To help manage the growing needs for care, AMHO has developed an action plan that calls for new investments in mental health and addiction in the community so Ontarians can access care, when and where they need it the most. Their plan outlines four priorities:
- Help people to live in the community by hiring 2,200 new mental health and addiction professionals such as case managers and social workers over the next 4 years.
- Improve accountability and outcome measurement by establishing a data system for Ontario's community mental health and addictions sector.
- Avoid service erosion and keep up with rising costs like hydro and food, and to help retain staff by increasing operational funding by 3.75% for the next 4 years and matching it to CPI in the years following.
- Provide a home and a connection to critical health services and spaces by adding a minimum of 30,000 supportive housing units over the next 10 years.
To see the full plan and priorities, please visit: http://www.addictionsandmentalhealthontario.ca/where-change-happens
"By making real investments in community mental health and addiction, we can hire the people we need to provide care, and create safe places for Ontarians to recover and find support and connection," said Ms. Czukar. "I know this because the community is where change happens."
About Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO)
AMHO represents over 220 addictions and mental health care organizations across Ontario. Our members provide services and supports that help Ontarians across the province, including counselling and case management, peer support and family support, employment services, residential treatment, withdrawal management, supportive housing and hospital based programs.
As the collective voice of our members, we provide leadership and engage partners to build a comprehensive and accessible system of addiction and mental health care, and improve the well-being of individuals, families and communities in Ontario. We do this through policy work, advocacy initiatives, service development, knowledge exchange, education offerings and quality improvement work.
SOURCE Addictions & Mental Health Ontario
For further information: or to arrange an interview with Gail Czukar, AMHO CEO, please contact: Jessica Behnke, Communications and Public Affairs Officer, Addictions and Mental Health Ontario, P: 416-490-8900 ext.229, [email protected]