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Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada

On May 8th, 2012 the Mental Health Commission of Canada released their report ‘Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada’. The Strategy focuses on improving mental health and well-being for all people living in Canada and on creating a mental health system that can meet the needs of people of all ages living with mental health problems and illnesses and their families.

Drawing on the best available evidence and on input from thousands of people across Canada, Changing Directions, Changing Lives translates this vision into recommendations for action. The scope of the Strategy is broad and its recommendations are grouped into six key Strategic Directions. The six Strategic Directions are as follows:

Promote mental health across the lifespan in homes, schools, and workplaces, and prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible.

Priorities:

  1. Increase awareness about how to promote mental health, prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible, and reduce stigma
  2. Increase the capacity of families, caregivers, schools, post-secondary institutions and community organizations to promote the mental health of infants, children, and youth, prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible, and intervene early when problems first emerge
  3. Create mentally healthy workplaces
  4. Increase the capacity of older adults, families, care settings, and communities to promote mental health in later life, prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible, and intervene early when problems first emerge

Foster recovery and well-being for people of all ages living with mental health problems and illnesses, and uphold their rights.

Priorities:

  1. Shift policies and practices toward recovery and wellbeing for people of all ages living with mental health problems and illnesses, and their families
  2. Actively involve people living with mental health problems and illnesses and their families in making decisions about service systems
  3. Uphold the rights of people living with mental health problems and illnesses
  4. Reduce the over-representation of people living with mental health problems and illnesses in the criminal justice system, and provide appropriate services, treatment and supports to those who are in the system

Provide access to the right combination of services, treatments and supports, when and where people need them.

Priorities:

  1. Expand the role of primary health care in meeting mental health needs
  2. Increase the availability and coordination of mental health services in the community for people of all ages
  3. Provide better access to intensive, acute, and highly specialized services, treatments and supports when they are needed by people living with severe or complex mental health problems and illnesses
  4. Recognize peer support as an essential component of mental health services
  5. Increase access to housing with supports, and to income, employment, and education support for people living with mental health problems and illnesses, and provide greater support to families

Reduce disparities in risk factors and access to mental health services, and strengthen the response to the needs of diverse communities and Northerners.

Priorities:

  1. Make improving mental health a goal when working to enhance overall living conditions and health outcomes
  2. Improve mental health services and supports by and for immigrants, refugees, ethno-cultural and racialized groups
  3. Tackle the pressing mental health challenges in northern and remote communities
  4. Strengthen the response to the mental health needs of minority official language communities (Francophone and Anglophone)
  5. Address the specific mental health needs related to gender and sexual orientation

Work with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis to address their mental health needs, acknowledging their distinct circumstances, rights and cultures.

Priorities:

  1. Establish a coordinated continuum of mental wellness services (mental health and substance use services) for and by First Nations, which includes traditional, cultural, and mainstream approaches
  2. Establish a coordinated continuum of mental wellness services (mental health and substance use services) for and by Inuit, which includes traditional, cultural, and clinical approaches
  3. Build Métis capacity to improve mental health and to improve access to mental health and addictions services through meaningful, inclusive, and equitable engagement processes and research
  4. Strengthen the response to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis urban and rural mental health issues, and to complex social issues that affect mental health

Mobilize leadership, improve knowledge, and foster collaboration at all levels.

Priorities:

  1. Coordinate mental health policies across governments and across sectors
  2. Improve mental health data collection, research, and knowledge exchange across Canada
  3. Strengthen mental health human resources
  4. Expand the leadership role of people living with mental health problems and illnesses, and their families, in setting mental health-related policy

 

The full version of Changing Directions, Changing Lives is available here