Invest in Our Future: CPA Urges Federal Parties to Make Children's Mental Health A National Priority

    OTTAWA, Oct. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - With more than a million children in this
country living with mental disorders, Canada must mobilize the necessary
resources and address this issue as one of the highest national priorities.
    "If we fail our children, we forfeit the future," said Dr. Catherine Lee,
President of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).
    The CPA today called on the federal parties, as part of the election
campaign, to outline their plans for children's mental health, particularly
with respect to school-based programs and services. The concerns are many. For

    - Canada falls far behind many other industrial countries in addressing
      bullying and victimization in schools. For example, "Canada ranked a
      dismal 26th and 27th out of 35 countries on 13 year-old students'
      reports of bullying and victimization, respectively".(1)

    - It is estimated that 1.2 million young people under the age of 20 have
      mental disorders.(2) Yet only 5 per cent of children with a diagnosable
      psychological problem receive any form of psychological care.(3)

    - Without a concerted effort to help young people who have mental health
      problems, many will never reach their full potential. The mental health
      conditions that emerge in childhood will persist into adulthood, and
      the associated human and fiscal costs will be enormous.  According to
      the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH), "up
      to 10 per cent of the cost of crime can be attributed to inadequate
      mental health care for children and youth".(4)

    "Failure to provide an integrated, accessible system of children's mental
health care fails children, families and communities. The direct and lost
productivity costs of mental disorders and addictions to the Canadian economy
are estimated at $33 billion annually.(5) " said Dr. Karen Cohen, Executive
Director of the CPA.
    The next government in Ottawa needs to work with the provinces in
implementing an integrated program of significantly enhanced mental health
services for children, including improved access in schools to trained
    "Sadly, right now, we seem to be headed in the opposite direction. We have
an undersupply of school psychologists either because school boards are
cutting back or because positions, which are not competitive with private
practice, remain unfilled," said Dr. Jennifer Frain, Chairperson of the
Council of Professional Associations of Psychologists (CPAP). "This means some
kids will never get access to the care they need because their families cannot
afford it. With cuts in public institutions, like schools, psychologists are
increasingly working in private practice where their services are not covered
by public health insurance plans."
    A 2007 review of School Psychology in Canada cited a benchmark of one
psychologist per 1,000 students(6). We're nowhere near that in Canada. Among
nine Canadian jurisdictions reported on, the average ratio of psychologists to
students was 1 to 5,161.
    In October 2005, federal, provincial and territorial ministers of health
endorsed nine Health Goals for Canada - the first of which states that Canada
is a country where our children reach their full potential, growing up happy,
healthy, confident and secure. CPA and CPAP want the governments to fulfill
their commitment and realize this goal.
    "The mental health and well being of our country's children is not
something we can ignore. We need political leadership, and we're urging the
federal parties to respond," said Dr. Lee.
    CPA and CPAP want to see the federal government get serious about this
issue by: 1) dedicating federal transfer funding for mental health and
specifically for children's mental health; 2) working with the provinces to
define and develop better models of prevention and service delivery in mental
health; and 3) setting benchmarks for the reduction of bullying and violence
in schools.

    About the CPA

    The Canadian Psychological Association was organized in 1939 to improve
the health and welfare of all Canadians; promote excellence and innovation in
psychological research, education, and practice; and promote the advancement,
development, dissemination, and application of psychological knowledge.

        (Craig & Harel, 2004).
    (2) Kirby MJL and Keon WJ. (2006). Out of the Shadows at Last: Highlights
        and Recommendations of the Final Report on Mental Health, Mental
        Illness and Addiction. Ottawa: Senate of Canada, Standing Senate
        Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
    (3) Canadian Psychological Association (2002). Enhancing the Experience
        of Children and youth in today's Schools: The Role of Psychology in
        Canadian Schools
    (4) Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health. (2006).
        Framework for Action on Mental Illness and Mental Health.
    (5) Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health. (2006).
        Framework for Action on Mental Illness and Mental Health.
    (6) Saklofske, D.H., Schwean, V.L., Bartell, R. et al. (2007). School
        Psychology in Canada: Past, present, and future perspectives. In T.
        Fagan & P.Wise (eds.). School Psychology: Past, present, and future
        perspectives.  Bethesda, MD: National Association of School

For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Rachel Sa, PR POST, (416)
777-0368; Linda McPhee, Canadian Psychological Association, (613) 237-2144 x

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