A report published by the University of Toronto is aiming to help people with mental health-related disabilities get access to the Ontario Disability Support Program.
Understanding the complexity of treatment of mental illness and addictions in Ontario was produced by the university’s Collaborative Mental Health Care Working Group, a joint initiative between the department of psychiatry and the department of family and community medicine. Its intention is to inform government policy decision makers about mental health-related disabilities and how mental health conditions and mental illnesses are treated in Ontario’s health care system.
The report outlines why many people with mental health conditions don’t seek treatment and, if they do, they’re mainly treated by primary care health care providers (such as family doctors) who are trained to treat a broad range of mental health conditions. It notes that the absence of a specialist referral doesn’t reflect the severity of a patient’s mental health condition.
The working group also explains why treatment history can be an unreliable predictor of the severity of a person’s disability, that the treatment of mental illness and addictions is complex and influenced by many factors, such as limited availability of specialized treatment and outpatient care (especially for those with low income and disadvantaged), stigma of treatment, and side effects and ineffectiveness of some medication.
The report was timely, with the Ontario government announcing in November reforms to its social assistance programs, ODSP and Ontario Works, which the Income Security Advocacy Centre says may make it more difficult for many people, including those with mental health-related disabilities, to get access to benefits when the changes take effect.
Read the full University of Toronto report here.