Mental health groups counting on Monday's budget for signal that Government will act on Senate Mental Health Report

    OTTAWA, March 16 /CNW Telbec/ - A coalition of Canada's major national
mental health organizations said today that they are counting on the new
government to signal in Monday's budget its intent to honour an election
commitment for a national mental health strategy.
    The coalition, the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health
(CAMIMH), remains optimistic that the budget will include financing to
establish the long-awaited National Mental Health Commission as well as some
additional funding for national activities such as research, as recommended
last year by the all-party Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology, in the groundbreaking report Out of the Shadows at
    Mental health groups see the Commission as the starting point for getting
provinces to work together with the federal government on a much needed
National Strategy on Mental Illness and Mental Health. Canada remains the only
G8 country without such a strategy. The House of Commons Standing Committee on
Finance also reported to the Minister of Finance last fall that the Commission
should be established and funded in this year's budget. Provinces have told
mental health groups they support the Commission.
    Constance McKnight, Chair of CAMIMH, said in a press statement that the
10-day electronic consultation held by Health Canada in January 2007 on the
Canadian Mental Health Commission elicited almost 10,000 responses from
Canadians and that 97% of these respondents supported the establishment of the
Commission. "I believe that this tremendous response was achieved because the
need to do something on mental health is so strong. We are not well funded
like many other health care groups. But we are able to rally quickly when we
get a glimmer of hope," she said. The response to the mental health
e-consultation compares to last year's electronic consultation on the federal
budget that was open for 30 days and elicited 6,000 responses.
    Mental illness is considered the 21st century population health challenge
in developed countries. The WHO predicts that by 2020 mental illnesses will be
the leading cause of disability in western nations-nations whose economies
rely on knowledge-based industries.
    Ms McKnight added that recent Finance Department estimates indicate a
huge additional budget surplus in the order of $1.5 billion over and above the
surplus predicted just last fall. "So surely the Government of Canada should
be able to spend $15M a year on a National Commission and invest $25 million
into mental health research", she said.

    Some facts on mental illness

    - Mental illnesses affect 1 in 5 Canadians during their lifespan
    - In first world countries, depression alone is now the greatest cause of
      disabilities in working-aged women
    - Mental illness accounts for 14% of lost workdays. This year alone,
      Canadians will lose 35 million workdays from mental illness,
      principally from depression
    - 6 of the 10 leading causes of disability are mental disorders
    - Almost 50% of years lived with disability are due to mental illness
    - People with inadequately or undiagnosed mental illnesses are heavier
      users of emergencies, primary care services and family practitioners
      for physical conditions.

    About CAMIMH

    Established in 1998, CAMIMH is an alliance of 19 national organizations
that span the continuum of mental health. They represent consumers and their
families, health care and social service providers, professional associations,
and community and research organizations. CAMIMH's mission is to promote and
facilitate the development, adoption, and implementation of a national action
plan on mental illness and mental health. Among its activities CAMIMH
coordinates an annual public education campaign in October - Mental Illness
Awareness Week.

For further information:

For further information: Constance McKnight, Chairperson, CAMIMH, (905)

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