(Toronto, Jan 24, 2024) – With Bell Let’s Talk Day this year focused on creating real change for
mental health, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is reminding Ontarians
to include addictions in the conversation.
While the yearly conversation by Bell Let’s Talk has facilitated open and honest conversations
about mental health issues, the stigma surrounding substance use and addictions remains.
Stigma is one of the biggest barriers for people seeking and receiving treatment.
“The opioid epidemic alone shows the importance of focusing on addictions issues in this
province,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. “What we’re facing is a public health
crisis, with more than 3,600 preventable deaths in Ontario last year alone.”
The opioid crisis highlights the need for a corresponding increase in supports and services for
those at risk. CMHA Ontario supports full funding of harm reduction approaches so that
individuals can seek the best option for reducing use.
“We need more low-barrier harm reduction services in this time, including more consumption
treatment services sites which are currently capped in Ontario,” said Quenneville. “We look
forward to the province finalizing its provincial review on this issue as several communities
anxiously await these programs.”
In addition to the opioid crisis, there is greater access to other substances such as alcohol and
cannabis, and more opportunities to gamble in Ontario.
“There is a strong link between addictions and mental health concerns,” said Quenneville. “We
encourage Ontarians to reach out for support if a behaviour or substance is disrupting their
ability to maintain a healthy life.”
• People with a mental health issue are twice as likely to have a substance use issue
compared to the general population.
• More than 15,000 Ontarians have died due to opioids since 2013.
• Alcohol cost Ontario $7.1 billion in 2020 due to lost productivity, healthcare, criminal
justice and other direct costs.
• More than 300,000 Canadians are reported to be at risk of gambling-related harms.
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health. Our 27 local CMHA branches, together with community-based mental health and addictions service providers across the province, serve thousands of Ontarians each year.
For more information, contact:
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario