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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.

The strategy is intersectoral and inter-ministerial in scope and is intended to align with various other Ontario initiatives, including new strategies arising from the Excellent Care Act for All Act, the Poverty Reduction Strategy, Early Learning Strategy and the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. Ontario’s new mental health and addiction strategy has four guiding goals:

  • improve mental health and well-being for all Ontarians
  • create healthy, resilient, inclusive communities
  • identify mental health and addictions problems early and intervene
  • provide timely, high quality, integrated, person-centred health and other human services.

The strategy’s focus in the first three years is on children and youth. Supports for this target population address three key areas: fast access to high-quality services, early identification and intervention and supporting kids with unique needs and bridging services gaps for remote communities.

In June 2011, Ontario released its “Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.”

In December 2010, the Minister’s Advisory Group (MAG) released their final report, “Respect, Recovery, Resilience: Recommendations for Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.”

In August 2010, the Select Committee released its final report, “Navigating the Journey to Wellness: The Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Ontarians.”

In March 2010, the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions released its “Interim Report,” available at, which provides a summary of major issues identified through the public hearings it convened throughout the province and submissions received by the committee during 2009/10.

The Minister’s Advisory Group has released a consultation paper, “Every Door is the Right Door.” This paper outlines a broad vision for the strategy.

How CMHA Has Been Involved in Addressing this Issue

CMHA Ontario has submitted a report to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care that reviews the recommendations of the Select Committee and the Minister’s Advisory Group reports and provides analysis and advice from CMHA Ontario regarding the development of a new 10-year mental health and addiction strategy.

CMHA Ontario has written a paper, “Opening Doors in Primary Health Care: Strengthening the Interface between Mental Health and Addiction Service Providers and Primary Health Care” (March 2010), in partnership with Addictions Ontario and Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs (with support of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) to inform the strategy on the importance of the linkage between mental health and addictions with primary health care.

CMHA Ontario has produced a policy paper about seniors, “Mental Health and Addictions Issues for Older Adults: Opening the Doors to a Strategic Framework” (March 2010), to help inform Ontario’s upcoming 10-year mental health and addictions strategy.

CMHA Ontario, in partnership with five other provincial mental health and addiction organizations (Addictions Ontario, Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario Peer Development Initiative, Ontario Association of Patients Councils), submitted a discussion paper “Addressing Integration of Mental Health and Addictions to the Select Committee on the Integration of Mental Health and Addictions” (May 2010).

CMHA Ontario has prepared a review of recent strategies for mental health reform in other jurisdictions: “The Windows of Opportunity for Mental Health Reform in Ontario” (March 2010). We offer insights into strategies and action plans of other jurisdictions’ activities in mental health reform. Similarities in core elements reflect the growing recognition of factors that influence mental health and support the journey of recovery. Differences in implementation reflect the variations that arise from local context. This review offers useful lessons as Ontario moves forward with new reforms.

In August 2009, CMHA Ontario prepared three responses to the Minister’s Advisory Group discussion document “Every Door is the Right Door”:

  • “Response to the Discussion Document” is a general response indicating our support for the document and offering suggestions.
  • “Focus on Seniors” looks at the discussion document through the lens of seniors’ mental health.
  • “Focus on Equity” looks at how health equity could be addressed in all aspects of the strategy outlined in the discussion document.

We have also written a backgrounder on “Rural and Northern Issues in Mental Health” to inform the strategy.

CMHA Ontario was invited to present to the Select Committee on May 27, 2009. The transcript of the presentation to the Select Committee is available at and the written submission is available at “CMHA Ontario Submission to the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions.”

CMHA Ontario has also prepared key messages and talking points that individuals and organizations at the local level may find useful in preparing their input. “Talking Points: A New Mental Health and Addictions Strategy for Ontario.”

Related Resources

Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, June 2011.

Every Door is the Right Door: Towards a 10-Year Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, July 2009.