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Mental Health Reform

Mental health policy in Ontario has evolved from an emphasis on institutionalization of people with mental illness to a system that emphasizes a comprehensive continuum of services based on level of need. This redirection in policy is frequently referred to as mental health reform.

Planning for mental health reform has been underway for more than 20 years in Ontario. Provincially led mental health reform implementation is currently underway. New investments in services and supports have begun. At the same time, the province is moving towards a regionalized system of health care planning, funding and monitoring with the creation of the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). The impact that regionalization will have on mental health services and supports is not yet clear. A strong provincial commitment to “stay the course” is required to ensure that mental health reform continues in Ontario’s new health system environment. A new 10-year mental health and addiction strategy for Ontario is currently being developed by the provincial government. The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care has created an advisory group made up of consumers, families, providers and researchers to provide advice on the development of the strategy. The Minister’s Advisory Group on Mental Health and Addictions is leading the development of the strategy. They produced a discussion paper, “Every Door is the Right Door,” in July 2009 and are expected to complete the strategy in 2010. CMHA Ontario, together with our partners in the mental health and addiction system, have identified the following critical success factors for the reform of the mental health and addictions systems:

  • Mental health and addiction services will be fully integrated within a transformed system
  • Consumers and families will be involved in all aspects of planning, decision-making, implementation and service delivery
  • People across Ontario will have access to mental health and addiction services in their communities, supported by best practice evidence and professional development
  • There will be a continuum of mental health and addiction services and supports from community-based to hospital care, including consumer and family initiatives
  • Access to housing, income, employment and social supports will be acknowledged and supported as critical aspects of treatment and recovery
  • Mechanisms for addressing the historical marginalization, stigma and under-funding of addiction and mental heath services will be in place
  • Equitable and transparent mechanisms will be in place to guide funding decisions for the sector
  • The needs of diverse, rural and remote communities will be met

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario is committed to working with policy-makers, LHINs and other stakeholders in moving forward with mental health reform in a way that will make a real difference to consumers and their families.

Chronology of Reports, Recommendations and Plans

The following reports concerning mental health reform have been published in Ontario in the last 25 years. All reports have strongly endorsed the principle of moving mental health care from psychiatric hospitals into the community, where people with mental illness can receive the services they need when they need them.”  Read More

Ontario’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy

The Ontario government has developed a new strategy for mental health and addictions. “Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy” follows Ontario’s previous mental health strategy, “Making It Happen.” The new mental health and addictions strategy aims to be a person-centred approach, across the life span.Read More

Federal Directions in Mental Health Reform

In 2006, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Kirby Committee) released the final report of its three-year study of mental health, mental illness and addictions in Canada, “Out of the Shadows at Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada.” Read More