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CMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13937
Date
2018-12-08
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  3 documents  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2018-12-08
Replaces
Code of ethics of the Canadian Medical Association (Update 2004)
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
CMA CODE OF ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM Compassion A compassionate physician recognizes suffering and vulnerability, seeks to understand the unique circumstances of each patient and to alleviate the patient’s suffering, and accompanies the suffering and vulnerable patient. Honesty An honest physician is forthright, respects the truth, and does their best to seek, preserve, and communicate that truth sensitively and respectfully. Humility A humble physician acknowledges and is cautious not to overstep the limits of their knowledge and skills or the limits of medicine, seeks advice and support from colleagues in challenging circumstances, and recognizes the patient’s knowledge of their own circumstances. Integrity A physician who acts with integrity demonstrates consistency in their intentions and actions and acts in a truthful manner in accordance with professional expectations, even in the face of adversity. Prudence A prudent physician uses clinical and moral reasoning and judgement, considers all relevant knowledge and circumstances, and makes decisions carefully, in good conscience, and with due regard for principles of exemplary medical care. The CMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism articulates the ethical and professional commitments and responsibilities of the medical profession. The Code provides standards of ethical practice to guide physicians in fulfilling their obligation to provide the highest standard of care and to foster patient and public trust in physicians and the profession. The Code is founded on and affirms the core values and commitments of the profession and outlines responsibilities related to contemporary medical practice. In this Code, ethical practice is understood as a process of active inquiry, reflection, and decision-making concerning what a physician’s actions should be and the reasons for these actions. The Code informs ethical decision-making, especially in situations where existing guidelines are insufficient or where values and principles are in tension. The Code is not exhaustive; it is intended to provide standards of ethical practice that can be interpreted and applied in particular situations. The Code and other CMA policies constitute guidelines that provide a common ethical framework for physicians in Canada. In this Code, medical ethics concerns the virtues, values, and principles that should guide the medical profession, while professionalism is the embodiment or enactment of responsibilities arising from those norms through standards, competencies, and behaviours. Together, the virtues and commitments outlined in the Code are fundamental to the ethical practice of medicine. Physicians should aspire to uphold the virtues and commitments in the Code, and they are expected to enact the professional responsibilities outlined in it. Physicians should be aware of the legal and regulatory requirements that govern medical practice in their jurisdictions. Trust is the cornerstone of the patient–physician relationship and of medical professionalism. Trust is therefore central to providing the highest standard of care and to the ethical practice of medicine. Physicians enhance trustworthiness in the profession by striving to uphold the following interdependent virtues: A. VIRTUES EXEMPLIFIED BY THE ETHICAL PHYSICIAN 2 B. FUNDAMENTAL COMMITMENTS OF THE MEDICAL PROFESSION Consider first the well-being of the patient; always act to benefit the patient and promote the good of the patient. Provide appropriate care and management across the care continuum. Take all reasonable steps to prevent or minimize harm to the patient; disclose to the patient if there is a risk of harm or if harm has occurred. Recognize the balance of potential benefits and harms associated with any medical act; act to bring about a positive balance of benefits over harms. Commitment to the well-being of the patient Promote the well-being of communities and populations by striving to improve health outcomes and access to care, reduce health inequities and disparities in care, and promote social accountability. Commitment to justice Practise medicine competently, safely, and with integrity; avoid any influence that could undermine your professional integrity. Develop and advance your professional knowledge, skills, and competencies through lifelong learning. Commitment to professional integrity and competence Always treat the patient with dignity and respect the equal and intrinsic worth of all persons. Always respect the autonomy of the patient. Never exploit the patient for personal advantage. Never participate in or support practices that violate basic human rights. Commitment to respect for persons Contribute to the development and innovation in medicine through clinical practice, research, teaching, mentorship, leadership, quality improvement, administration, or advocacy on behalf of the profession or the public. Participate in establishing and maintaining professional standards and engage in processes that support the institutions involved in the regulation of the profession. Cultivate collaborative and respectful relationships with physicians and learners in all areas of medicine and with other colleagues and partners in health care. Commitment to professional excellence Value personal health and wellness and strive to model self-care; take steps to optimize meaningful co-existence of professional and personal life. Value and promote a training and practice culture that supports and responds effectively to colleagues in need and empowers them to seek help to improve their physical, mental, and social well-being. Recognize and act on the understanding that physician health and wellness needs to be addressed at individual and systemic levels, in a model of shared responsibility. Commitment to self-care and peer support Value and foster individual and collective inquiry and reflection to further medical science and to facilitate ethical decision-making. Foster curiosity and exploration to further your personal and professional development and insight; be open to new knowledge, technologies, ways of practising, and learning from others. Commitment to inquiry and reflection 3 C. PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES The patient–physician relationship is at the heart of the practice of medicine. It is a relationship of trust that recognizes the inherent vulnerability of the patient even as the patient is an active participant in their own care. The physician owes a duty of loyalty to protect and further the patient’s best interests and goals of care by using the physician’s expertise, knowledge, and prudent clinical judgment. In the context of the patient–physician relationship: 1. Accept the patient without discrimination (such as on the basis of age, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic characteristics, language, marital and family status, medical condition, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status). This does not abrogate the right of the physician to refuse to accept a patient for legitimate reasons. 2. Having accepted professional responsibility for the patient, continue to provide services until these services are no longer required or wanted, or until another suitable physician has assumed responsibility for the patient, or until after the patient has been given reasonable notice that you intend to terminate the relationship. 3. Act according to your conscience and respect differences of conscience among your colleagues; however, meet your duty of non-abandonment to the patient by always acknowledging and responding to the patient’s medical concerns and requests whatever your moral commitments may be. 4. Inform the patient when your moral commitments may influence your recommendation concerning provision of, or practice of any medical procedure or intervention as it pertains to the patient’s needs or requests. 5. Communicate information accurately and honestly with the patient in a manner that the patient understands and can apply, and confirm the patient’s understanding. 6. Recommend evidence-informed treatment options; recognize that inappropriate use or overuse of treatments or resources can lead to ineffective, and at times harmful, patient care and seek to avoid or mitigate this. 7. Limit treatment of yourself, your immediate family, or anyone with whom you have a similarly close relationship to minor or emergency interventions and only when another physician is not readily available; there should be no fee for such treatment. 8. Provide whatever appropriate assistance you can to any person who needs emergency medical care. 9. Ensure that any research to which you contribute is evaluated both scientifically and ethically and is approved by a research ethics board that adheres to current standards of practice. When involved in research, obtain the informed consent of the research participant and advise prospective participants that they have the right to decline to participate or withdraw from the study at any time, without negatively affecting their ongoing care. 10. Never participate in or condone the practice of torture or any form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading procedure. Physicians and patients Patient-physician relationship 4 11. Empower the patient to make informed decisions regarding their health by communicating with and helping the patient (or, where appropriate, their substitute decision-maker) navigate reasonable therapeutic options to determine the best course of action consistent with their goals of care; communicate with and help the patient assess material risks and benefits before consenting to any treatment or intervention. 12. Respect the decisions of the competent patient to accept or reject any recommended assessment, treatment, or plan of care. 13. Recognize the need to balance the developing competency of minors and the role of families and caregivers in medical decision-making for minors, while respecting a mature minor’s right to consent to treatment and manage their personal health information. 14. Accommodate a patient with cognitive impairments to participate, as much as possible, in decisions that affect them; in such cases, acknowledge and support the positive roles of families and caregivers in medical decision-making and collaborate with them, where authorized by the patient’s substitute decision-maker, in discerning and making decisions about the patient’s goals of care and best interests. 15. Respect the values and intentions of a patient deemed incompetent as they were expressed previously through advance care planning discussions when competent, or via a substitute decision-maker. 16. When the specific intentions of an incompetent patient are unknown and in the absence of a formal mechanism for making treatment decisions, act consistently with the patient’s discernable values and goals of care or, if these are unknown, act in the patient’s best interests. 17. Respect the patient’s reasonable request for a second opinion from a recognized medical expert. Physicians and the practice of medicine Patient privacy and the duty of confidentiality 18. Fulfill your duty of confidentiality to the patient by keeping identifiable patient information confidential; collecting, using, and disclosing only as much health information as necessary to benefit the patient; and sharing information only to benefit the patient and within the patient’s circle of care. Exceptions include situations where the informed consent of the patient has been obtained for disclosure or as provided for by law. 19. Provide the patient or a third party with a copy of their medical record upon the patient’s request, unless there is a compelling reason to believe that information contained in the record will result in substantial harm to the patient or others. 20. Recognize and manage privacy requirements within training and practice environments and quality improvement initiatives, in the context of secondary uses of data for health system management, and when using new technologies in clinical settings. 21. Avoid health care discussions, including in personal, public, or virtual conversations, that could reasonably be seen as revealing confidential or identifying information or as being disrespectful to patients, their families, or caregivers. Medical decision-making is ideally a deliberative process that engages the patient in shared decision-making and is informed by the patient’s experience and values and the physician’s clinical judgment. This deliberation involves discussion with the patient and, with consent, others central to the patient’s care (families, caregivers, other health professionals) to support patient-centred care. In the process of shared decision-making: Decision-making 5 22. Recognize that conflicts of interest may arise as a result of competing roles (such as financial, clinical, research, organizational, administrative, or leadership). 23. Enter into associations, contracts, and agreements that maintain your professional integrity, consistent with evidenceinformed decision-making, and safeguard the interests of the patient or public. 24. Avoid, minimize, or manage and always disclose conflicts of interest that arise, or are perceived to arise, as a result of any professional relationships or transactions in practice, education, and research; avoid using your role as a physician to promote services (except your own) or products to the patient or public for commercial gain outside of your treatment role. 25. Take reasonable steps to ensure that the patient understands the nature and extent of your responsibility to a third party when acting on behalf of a third party. 26. Discuss professional fees for non-insured services with the patient and consider their ability to pay in determining fees. 27. When conducting research, inform potential research participants about anything that may give rise to a conflict of interest, especially the source of funding and any compensation or benefits. 28. Be aware of and promote health and wellness services, and other resources, available to you and colleagues in need. 29. Seek help from colleagues and appropriate medical care from qualified professionals for personal and professional problems that might adversely affect your health and your services to patients. 30. Cultivate training and practice environments that provide physical and psychological safety and encourage help-seeking behaviours. 31. Treat your colleagues with dignity and as persons worthy of respect. Colleagues include all learners, health care partners, and members of the health care team. 32. Engage in respectful communications in all media. 33. Take responsibility for promoting civility, and confronting incivility, within and beyond the profession. Avoid impugning the reputation of colleagues for personal motives; however, report to the appropriate authority any unprofessional conduct by colleagues. 34. Assume responsibility for your personal actions and behaviours and espouse behaviours that contribute to a positive training and practice culture. 35. Promote and enable formal and informal mentorship and leadership opportunities across all levels of training, practice, and health system delivery. 36. Support interdisciplinary team-based practices; foster team collaboration and a shared accountability for patient care. Physicians and self Physicians and colleagues Managing and minimizing conflicts of interest 6 38. Recognize that social determinants of health, the environment, and other fundamental considerations that extend beyond medical practice and health systems are important factors that affect the health of the patient and of populations. 39. Support the profession’s responsibility to act in matters relating to public and population health, health education, environmental determinants of health, legislation affecting public and population health, and judicial testimony. 40. Support the profession’s responsibility to promote equitable access to health care resources and to promote resource stewardship. 41. Provide opinions consistent with the current and widely accepted views of the profession when interpreting scientific knowledge to the public; clearly indicate when you present an opinion that is contrary to the accepted views of the profession. 42. Contribute, where appropriate, to the development of a more cohesive and integrated health system through interprofessional collaboration and, when possible, collaborative models of care. 43. Commit to collaborative and respectful relationships with Indigenous patients and communities through efforts to understand and implement the recommendations relevant to health care made in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 44. Contribute, individually and in collaboration with others, to improving health care services and delivery to address systemic issues that affect the health of the patient and of populations, with particular attention to disadvantaged, vulnerable, or underserved communities. Approved by the CMA Board of Directors Dec 2018 37. Commit to ensuring the quality of medical services offered to patients and society through the establishment and maintenance of professional standards. Physicians and society
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Joint Canadian Medical Association & Canadian Psychiatric Association Policy - Access to mental health care

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11890
Date
2016-05-20
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2016-05-20
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
One in five Canadians suffer from a mental health problem or illness in any given year. Mental illness costs Canada over $50 billion annually in health care costs, lost productivity and reductions in health-related quality of life. The social costs of poor mental health are high; a person with serious mental illness is at high risk of experiencing poverty, homelessness and unemployment. Despite the widespread prevalence of mental health disorders, it is estimated that fewer than one-third of people affected by them will seek treatment. This is due in large part to the stigma society attaches to mental illness, which can lead to discriminatory treatment in the workplace or the health care system. In recent years, awareness of mental health issues has risen considerably in Canada. However, much still needs to be done to ensure that Canadians who require mental health care have timely access to the treatment and support they need. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) recommend that all stakeholders, and governments at all levels, work together toward developing a mental health care system that incorporates the following elements:
Comprehensive, patient-centred care and evidence-based treatment for mental health disorders. This includes enhancing collaboration and teamwork among health professionals, patients and their families; providing education and resources for health professionals; and supporting ongoing research to identify and disseminate best clinical practices.
Timely access to mental health services. The health care system should ensure an appropriate supply, distribution and mix of accredited mental health professionals, ensure equitable coverage of essential mental health care and treatment, and provide appropriate services for populations with unique needs, such as children and older Canadians.
Adequate supports in the community, for example in schools and workplaces, to promote mental health, identify mental health issues in a timely manner and support people with mental illness as they seek to function optimally.
Reduction of stigma and discrimination faced by Canadians with mental health disorders, in the health care system and in society. Summary of recommendations Comprehensive, patient-centred care and evidence-based treatment Governments and health care systems 1. Develop and support a continuum of evidence-based, patient-centred services for the promotion of mental health and treatment of mental illness, in the community and in hospitals, with smooth transitions and linkages between each level. 2. Develop and implement models of collaborative mental health care in the community, with input from key stakeholders including the public, patients and their families, evaluate their effectiveness and encourage the adoption of those that demonstrate success. 3. Develop and implement a national caregiver strategy and expand the financial and emotional support programs currently offered to informal caregivers. 4. Continue to develop, implement and monitor mental health indicators that reflect both health system performance and population health, regularly report the results to the public and use them to improve the delivery of mental health services in Canada. 5. Increase funding for mental health research so that it is proportionate to the burden of mental illness on Canada’s health care system. Medical faculties, professional associations and the health care systems 6. Continue to develop evidence-based guidelines and professional development programs on mental health treatment and management, for all health care providers. 7. Continue to conduct research into best practices in mental health care and treatment and communicate the results of this research promptly to health care providers and the public. Appropriate provision and funding of mental health services Governments and health care systems Address current gaps in access to mental health services in the following ways: 8. Ensure that mental health services are appropriately funded to effectively meet the needs of Canadians. 9. Make mental health a priority with all levels of government and ensure stable and appropriate funding. 10. Establish standards for access to mental health services, including appropriate maximum wait times, and measure and report them on an ongoing basis. 11. Fund and support primary health care delivery models that include mental health promotion and mental illness treatment among the services they provide and identify and address the barriers to their implementation. 12. Increase funding for access to evidence-based psychotherapies and counselling services for mental disorders. 13. Establish a program of comprehensive prescription drug coverage to ensure that all Canadians have access to medically necessary drug therapies. 14. Continue to develop linkages between remote communities and larger health centres, including telehealth and e-health services, to ensure adequate access to mental health services by people in smaller communities. Health professional associations 15. Work with governments and other stakeholders to develop a mental health human resources plan that optimizes the scope of practice of every health professional, is culturally appropriate and takes into account Canada’s diverse geography. 16. Undertake a national study of ways to optimize the supply, mix and distribution of psychiatrists in Canada and present its findings/recommendations to governments. Adequate community supports outside the health sector Governments 17. Ensure the availability of school-based mental health promotion and mental illness prevention programs, and programs that address school-related problems, such as bullying, that are associated with mental distress. 18. Work with employers and other stakeholders to support mental health programs for workplaces. 19. Provide programs and services to improve the interface between people with mental illnesses and the criminal justice system. 20. Expand programs that provide housing for people with mental illness. Reduction of stigma and discrimination Governments and the health care system 21. Incorporate identification and elimination of stigma as a quality of care indicator in the ongoing monitoring of health system performance at all levels. 22. Implement and evaluate national public awareness and education strategies to counteract the stigma associated with mental illness. 23. Enforce legislation and regulations to guard against discrimination against people with mental illness. Professional education 24. Incorporate effective anti-stigma education into the entire medical education continuum (medical school, residency and continuing professional development) for all physicians and other health professionals. 25. Incorporate effective anti-stigma education into professional development programs at hospitals and other health care facilities. Introduction Mental health disorders impose a heavy burden on Canadians and their health care system. In any given year, one in five Canadians will suffer from a mental health problem or illness. It is estimated that 10% to 20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental health disorder. By age 40, 50% of Canadians will have had a mental illness. Mental illness can shorten life expectancy; for example, people with schizophrenia die as much as 20 years earlier than the population average. This is due both to higher rates of suicide and substance abuse and to a poorer prognosis for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Suicide is the second leading cause of death (after injuries) for Canadians aged 15 to 34. For people with mental health disorders, the effect on their lives goes beyond their interaction with the health care system; a person with serious mental illness is at high risk of experiencing poverty, homelessness and unemployment. Mental health disorders are costly to Canada’s health care system and to its economy. A third of hospital stays in Canada and 25% of emergency department visits are due to mental health disorders. It is estimated that mental illness costs Canada over $50 billion per year, including health care costs, lost productivity and reductions in health-related quality of life. Despite the widespread prevalence of mental health disorders, it is estimated that only one- quarter to one-third of people affected by them will seek treatment. This could be due in part to the stigma society attaches to mental illness, which deters many people from seeking needed treatment because they fear ostracism by their friends or discriminatory treatment in the workplace or the health care system. Those who do seek treatment may have a difficult time finding it. According to Statistics Canada, in 2012 almost a third of Canadians who sought mental health care reported that their needs were not met or only partially met. Lack of access to family physicians, psychiatrists and other health care providers contributes to this deficit. Though mental illnesses constitute more than 15% of the disease burden in Canada, the country spends only about seven cents of every public health care dollar on mental illness (7%), below the 10% to 11% of spending devoted to mental illness in countries such as New Zealand and the United Kingdom.4 Since 2000, however, Canadians’ awareness of mental health issues has risen considerably. The seminal 2006 report entitled Out of the Shadows at Last by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, chaired by Senator Michael Kirby, made a number of recommendations aimed at increasing awareness, improving access to mental health services and reducing the stigma of mental illness. As a result of this report, in 2007 the federal government established the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to be a catalyst for improving the mental health system and changing the attitudes and behaviours of Canadians around mental health issues. In 2012, the MHCC released Canada’s first mental health strategy, “Changing Directions, Changing Lives.” As part of her mandate from the prime minister following the 2015 federal election, Canada’s health minister has been asked to “engage provinces and territories in the development of a new multi-year Health Accord [that will] make high quality mental health services more available to Canadians who need them.” Nearly all provincial governments have also developed mental health strategies for their own jurisdictions. Much still needs to be done to translate heightened awareness into improvements in service provision to give Canadians who require mental health care timely access to the evidence-based, patient-centred treatment and support they need. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) agree it is time to make mental health a high priority in Canada. The CMA and CPA recommend that all stakeholders, and governments at all levels, work together toward developing a mental health care system that is driven by needs-based plans with clear performance measures and that receives an appropriate share of health care funding. This position statement discusses and makes recommendations on issues relating to access to mental health care, with a focus on:
comprehensive, patient-centred care and evidence-based treatment for mental health disorders;
appropriately funded primary, specialty and community mental health treatment and support services;
adequate community supports for people with mental health disorders; and
reduction of the stigma and discrimination faced by Canadians with mental health disorders. Comprehensive, patient-centred care and evidence-based treatment The goal of mental health care in Canada should be to allow patients’ needs to be met in the most appropriate, timely and cost-effective manner possible. Current best practice suggests that care for patients with mental health disorders should be provided using models that incorporate the following principles. Patient-centred care One of the fundamental principles of health care is that it be patient centred. CMA defines patient-centred care as “seamless access to the continuum of care in a timely manner … that takes into consideration the individual needs and preferences of the patient and his/her family and treats the patient with respect and dignity.” For treatment of mental health disorders, it is essential that patients be core members of the health care team, working with health care providers to address their individual needs, preferences and aspirations and to seek their personal paths to well-being. Physicians and other health professionals can help patients make choices about their treatment and can provide information and support to patients and their families as they seek to cope with the effects of their illnesses and live functional lives. A continuum of mental health services Mental health disorders can be complex and can vary in severity. A patient may have short-term coping difficulties that can be resolved with counselling or a severe psychotic illness that requires frequent hospital care and intensive, lifelong support. This range of needs requires that the health care system provide different levels of care, including:
community-based programs to promote and maintain mental health and to facilitate early identification of problems requiring intervention;
community-based primary health care, including collaborative care teams, which focus on providing mental health maintenance programs and on treating high-prevalence conditions such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders and addictions;
specialized services in the community for patients with greater needs, which can be delivered through a variety of means, including community-based psychiatrists, interdisciplinary family health teams that incorporate psychiatric services and specialized interdisciplinary teams such as assertive community treatment (ACT) teams ;
acute-care mental health services including community crisis teams and beds, psychiatric emergency services and inpatient beds in community hospitals, and specialized psychiatric hospitals;
a continuum of residential care services including long-term care facilities;
seamless, integrated transitions from one level of care to another, and across age groups (e.g., from youth to adult to senior mental health services);
appropriate services for special populations, including children and adolescents, and adults with dementia;
specialized psychiatric services for patients with complex mental illnesses such as eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders; and
community-based programs that provide housing, vocational support and other services to optimize community integration of people with mental illness. Mental health care should ideally be provided in the context of caring for the patient’s overall health, taking into account any physical conditions for which the patient is receiving or may receive treatment. Collaborative and team-based mental health care Within this continuum, a variety of health care professionals with different skills and education provide mental health services in Canada. They include:
primary care physicians (family physicians and general practitioners);
psychiatrists (hospital and community based);
other specialist physicians (including emergency physicians, paediatricians, geriatricians);
other health professionals (psychologists, nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists, social workers); and
case managers, peer support workers and system navigators. Collaborative models enable a variety of mental health care providers to work with patients and their families to provide effective, coordinated care according to a mutually agreed plan. Collaborative partnerships in mental health care have demonstrated benefits including symptom and functional improvement, reduced disability days and improved adherence to medication. Elements of a successful collaborative partnership include:
effective linkages among psychiatrists, primary care providers and other mental health professionals, including a seamless process for consultation and referral;
effective communication and information flow;
use of technology, such as electronic health records and telemedicine, to facilitate collaboration among providers in all health care settings;
coordination of care plans and clinical activities to ensure the most effective care and efficient use of resources; and
integration of mental health and primary care providers within a single service or team (in some cases, providers may work in the same practice setting).13 Education and resources for health professionals Since mental health disorders are pervasive and are often associated with other chronic conditions such as heart disease, health care providers of all disciplines and specialties often encounter them while caring for their patients. The Mental Health Core Competencies for Physicians report, prepared collaboratively by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the MHCC, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, CMA and CPA, proposes goals, principles and core mental health competencies to provide guidance to physicians of all specialties. The intent is to improve access to mental health services; improve the experience of care, including reducing stigma; recognize and address the interaction between physical and mental health; and provide practice support for physicians. To support physicians and other health care providers in treating mental health disorders, clinical and practice resources should be available to them, including:
early education in medical school and residency on mental health promotion, diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, and liaison with other community resources, for all specialties;
clinical practice tools including practice guidelines, clinical pathways and online decision support including prescribing guidelines for the appropriate use of psychiatric drugs;
online continuing professional development (CPD) programs ;
enhanced interprofessional education for all providers (psychiatrists, family physicians, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, peer support workers, patients, their family members and others as relevant) ; and
evidence-based, user-friendly education and support tools for patients, which physicians can recommend to help them manage their conditions. Support for informal caregivers Often the burden of caring for a person with mental illness falls heavily on family or friends, and the role of the informal caregiver can be demanding financially, physically and/or emotionally. Though governments have instituted tax credits and other forms of support for caregivers, more help is required. A national caregiver strategy, developed by governments and other key stakeholders, could define a national standard of support for informal caregivers and expand the financial and emotional support programs that are currently offered. Research and evaluation Thanks to ongoing research, our knowledge of how to treat and manage mental health disorders is constantly growing and developing. However, there are still gaps in this knowledge, and research needs in the area remain substantial. CMA and CPA encourage a continued commitment to research into best practices in early identification, care and treatment of mental health disorders and to funding this research so that it is proportionate to the burden of mental illness on Canada’s health care system. Results of this research should be communicated to health professionals and the public as quickly and widely as possible, so that it can be rapidly incorporated into clinical practice. Mental health care interventions should also be routinely evaluated for their effectiveness in improving patient care, enhancing the sustainability of the health care system and increasing the overall health and well-being of Canadians. The MHCC has developed a set of 63 mental health indicators that focus on 13 specific areas, including access and treatment, the economy and workplace, and special populations such as seniors, children and youth. Other projects are underway to develop indicators to monitor and report more specifically on mental health system performance, such as use of emergency departments for mental health care, and physician follow-up after hospital treatment. Such indicators should be used on an ongoing basis to monitor the performance of the mental health care system and provide mental health professionals, planners and governments with reliable information that they can use to better meet the needs of Canadians. Recommendations Governments and health care systems 1. Develop and support a continuum of evidence-based, patient-centred services for the promotion of mental health and treatment of mental illness, in the community and in hospitals, with smooth transitions and linkages between each level. 2. Develop and implement models of collaborative mental health care in the community, with input from key stakeholders including the public, patients and their families, evaluate their effectiveness and encourage the adoption of those that demonstrate success. 3. Develop and implement a national caregiver strategy and expand the financial and emotional support programs currently offered to informal caregivers. 4. Continue to develop, implement and monitor mental health indicators that reflect both health system performance and population health, regularly report the results to the public and use them to improve the delivery of mental health services in Canada. 5. Increase funding for mental health research so that it is proportionate to the burden of mental illness on Canada’s health care system. Medical faculties, professional associations and health care systems 6. Continue to develop evidence-based guidelines and professional development programs on mental health treatment and management, for all health care providers. 7. Continue to conduct research into best practices in mental health care and treatment and communicate the results of this research promptly to health care providers and the public. Appropriate provision and funding of mental health services Appropriate provision of mental health services requires that people be able to access the right care in the right place at the right time, in both hospital and community settings. Unfortunately, because of the underfunding of the mental health care system, limited resources are available to accommodate all of those who need such services. The exact extent of lack of access to hospital and community mental health services is not well documented; for instance, provinces do not report wait times for psychiatric services. According to the 2015 Wait Time Alliance Report Card, no jurisdiction is measuring what proportion of patients is being seen within the benchmark time periods. In December 2015 the CPA expressed disappointment that “no visible progress has been made in measuring how well the health system meets the psychiatric needs of Canadians.” In the absence of community-based services, patients may have their discharge from hospital delayed. Once they are back in the community, they may be unable to find appropriate assistance, or assistance may be available but beyond their financial means. They may abandon treatment or rely on emergency departments for episodic crisis care.4 Canada should work to remedy the current deficiencies in access to mental health services so that people with mental health disorders have timely access to seamless, comprehensive care in the most appropriate setting. This includes ensuring an appropriate supply, distribution and mix of accredited mental health professionals, ensuring equitable coverage of essential health services and making appropriate services and supports available to populations with unique needs. Access to physician services Primary care For the majority of patients who seek treatment for a mental health problem, the first (often the only) point of contact is their primary care physician. As part of the comprehensive care they provide to patients, family physicians and general practitioners can provide mental health promotion and wellness counselling, detect and treat mental health disorders in their early stages and monitor the patient’s progress in the context of his or her overall health and well-being, referring to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals as needed.13 CMA has long recommended that every Canadian have an established professional relationship with a family physician who is familiar with his or her condition, needs and preferences. However, some Canadians may have difficulty finding primary medical care, since the proportion of family physicians and general practitioners to the population is not consistent across Canada. All stakeholders should continue working to ensure that every Canadian has access to comprehensive first-point-of-contact medical care. Psychiatric services Psychiatrists are physicians who complete five to seven years of specialty and subspecialty training to diagnose, treat and provide ongoing care for mental illnesses, particularly to people with complex illnesses that cannot be managed within a primary care setting alone. In addition to providing specialty treatment, psychiatrists are also active in the areas of education, research and advocacy about the importance of mental health promotion and mental illness prevention. They provide care across the lifespan, in both hospital and community settings. Patient access to psychiatrists is often limited by long wait times. It has been suggested that this is due to a shortage of psychiatrists, which is more severe in some parts of Canada than others. Recent surveys report that a number of specialists, including psychiatrists, are in the latter half of their careers, and there are concerns that the number of psychiatrists per Canadian population is declining. Though the Royal College notes that the number of psychiatric residency positions has increased in recent years, it is unclear if this is sufficient to meet current and future population needs. The CPA recommends the development of strategies to attract, train and retain practitioners in clinical psychiatry. Access to services not funded by provincial and territorial health systems Though Canada’s public health care system covers many mental health services and treatments, including physician consultations and hospital care, it does not cover all aspects of optimal treatment and care, and access to some therapies may be limited by the patient’s ability to pay. Psychiatric drugs, especially those that must be taken over many years, can pose a heavy financial burden for patients who do not have drug coverage through employer-provided benefit programs or provincial or territorial drug plans. Psychotherapies delivered by non-physician health care practitioners are generally not covered by government health plans and must, therefore, in most cases be paid for out of pocket or through private insurance plans, to which many Canadians do not have access. Federal, provincial and territorial governments should work to increase access to accredited psychological and counselling services that are evidence based and to provide comprehensive coverage of medically necessary prescription drugs for all Canadians. Some primary health care practices, such as family health teams in Ontario, have funding envelopes that they can use to contract with skilled mental health professionals to provide psychotherapy, stress management programs and other services that are not ordinarily funded through provincial health budgets. Models such as these help to make publicly funded mental health care available to patients who might otherwise have been unable to afford it. Access to mental health services for special populations For some populations, access to mental health services may be particularly problematic. For example, stakeholders should consider the needs of the following populations:
Children and youth: As up to 70% of mental health conditions first appear in adolescence or young adulthood, it is important that young people have access to mental health promotion and to appropriate assessment and treatment of mental health disorders. At present only one out of four children who need mental health services receives them.1,3 CMA and CPA particularly recommend increased supports for children in high-risk situations, such as those in foster care. The transition from the youth to the adult mental health service sectors should be smooth and well organized.
Remote areas: People in the North and other remote parts of Canada may have to travel many miles to access mental health and other health care services. This gap should be remedied by using technologies such as telehealth and e-mental health services and by strengthening communication and coordination between small communities and the larger health centres to which their residents travel for care.
Immigrants and refugees: New arrivals to Canada may have problems understanding our language and culture and may also face mental health problems as a result of traumatic experiences in their countries of origin or the stress of relocation.
Indigenous Peoples. Rates of mental health disorders, addictions and suicide are high among Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Much of this is linked to past experience of forcible separation from their traditional languages and culture. Health service providers should work with Indigenous communities to address their distinct mental health needs appropriately.
Seniors: An estimated 10% to 15% of seniors report depression, and the rate is higher among those with concomitant physical illness and those living in long-term care facilities. Depression among older people may be under-recognized and under-treated or dismissed as a normal consequence of aging. Poor mental health is often associated with social isolation, a common problem among seniors. The majority of older adults in long-term care settings have dementia or another mental health condition. Recommendations Governments and health care systems Address current gaps in access to mental health services in the following ways: 8. Ensure that mental health services are appropriately funded to effectively meet the needs of Canadians. 9. Make mental health a priority with all levels of government and ensure stable and appropriate funding. 10. Establish standards for access to mental health services, including appropriate maximum wait times, and measure and report them on an ongoing basis. 11. Fund and support primary health care delivery models that include mental health promotion and mental illness treatment among the services they provide and identify and address the barriers to their implementation. 12. Increase funding for access to evidence-based psychotherapies and counselling services for mental disorders. 13. Establish a program of comprehensive prescription drug coverage to ensure that all Canadians have access to medically necessary drug therapies. 14. Continue to develop linkages between remote communities and larger health centres, including telehealth and e-health services, to ensure adequate access to mental health services by people in smaller communities. Health professional associations 15. Work with governments and other stakeholders to develop a mental health human resources plan that optimizes the scope of practice of every health professional, is culturally appropriate and takes into account Canada’s diverse geography. 16. Undertake a national study of ways to optimize the supply, mix and distribution of psychiatrists in Canada and present its findings/recommendations to governments. Adequate community supports outside the health sector People with mental health disorders often require not only treatment and care from the health sector but also support from the community at large to function optimally. Ideally, the community should provide an environment that supports patients as they work toward recovery and well-being. In addition, schools, workplaces and other community agencies can play an important role in promoting mental health and identifying problems that require attention. Schools Education and information should be made available to parents, teachers and health professionals to help them identify signs of mental illness or distress in children and adolescents, so they can intervene early and appropriately. School health education programs should include the promotion of mental health and incorporate self-management techniques such as mindfulness training to help young people develop resilience. Schools should also ensure that they minimize possible threats to children’s mental health, such as bullying, that may occur on their premises. Workplaces Unlike many other chronic conditions, mental illness frequently affects younger people and those in their most productive years, so the burden it imposes on Canada’s economy is high. Mental health disorders account for 30% of short-term workplace disability claims,1 and the Conference Board of Canada has estimated that six common mental health disorders cost the country’s economy more than $21 billion a year and predicts that this cost will increase to $30 billion by 2030. However, often employees do not disclose mental health problems to their employers for fear of losing their jobs, being ostracized by colleagues, or other negative consequences. Workplaces can support the mental health of their employees by:
offering mental health promotion assistance through stress management seminars, employee assistance and other programs;
training managers to identify potential mental health issues in their staff and to intervene early and appropriately;
eliminating stigma and discrimination and providing an environment in which employees feel safe disclosing their mental health issues; and
offering adequate benefits, including supplementary health insurance and supportive leave-of-absence programs. The MHCC’s Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, released in 2013, provides guidance to employers on how to promote the mental health of their staff and intervene in cases of mental distress. Correctional services People with mental illnesses are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Estimates suggest that rates of serious mental illness among federal offenders upon admission have increased by 60% to 70% cent since 1997.4 This places a heavy burden on corrections and law enforcement staff, who are often inadequately trained to deal with mental illness. Programs and services are needed to ensure that people with mental health disorders who run afoul of the law are identified early, given appropriate treatment throughout their incarceration and followed up on release. These could include:
training for police and other frontline criminal justice and corrections workers in how to interact with people with mental illnesses;
diversion programs, such as mental health courts, to redirect people with mental illnesses who are about to enter the criminal justice system;
comprehensive psychiatric screening, assessment and treatment for incarcerated patients with mental illnesses and common co-occurring conditions such as addiction; and
Careful handover of clinical care at the point of release from custody with engagement by mental health services in the community. Housing Mental illness increases a patient’s risk for poverty and homelessness. It is estimated that two- thirds of Canada’s homeless population have a serious mental illness. Homelessness and poverty can exacerbate existing mental health and addiction problems, hinder access to treatment and reduce life expectancy. Programs such as the MHCC’s Housing First research demonstration project can improve the social and economic circumstances of people with mental illness. The MHCC project provided no-strings-attached supportive housing for people with chronic mental health problems, giving them a secure base from which they could pursue their treatment and recovery goals. Evaluation showed that this approach reduced the rate of homelessness, improved access to treatment and support services and led to cost savings, particularly for the program participants who had the highest service-use costs. Recommendations Governments 17. Ensure the availability of school-based mental health promotion and mental illness prevention programs, and programs that address school-related problems, such as bullying, that are associated with mental distress. 18. Work with employers and other stakeholders to support mental health programs for workplaces. 19. Provide programs and services to improve the interface between people with mental illnesses and the criminal justice system. 20. Expand programs that provide housing for people with mental illness. Reduction of stigma and discrimination Many believe that the primary reason for the underfunding of the mental health care system and for the reluctance of people with mental health disorders to seek treatment is the stigma attached to their conditions. Mental illness is the most stigmatized disease state in Canada, and discriminatory behaviour toward people with mental health disorders is widespread. This can include ostracism and lack of support from peers, discrimination in the workplace and distorted public perceptions, such as the tendency to equate mental illness with violent behaviour. Discriminatory behaviour can also occur in the health care system. Experts acknowledge that stigma affects health care providers’ attitude toward patients with mental health problems.29 Though many health care providers are unaware that their language or actions can be harmful, their attitude may have negative effects on the treatment their patients receive. For example, if a patient who has been treated for a psychiatric condition reports physical symptoms, these symptoms might be attributed to the mental illness rather than to a physical condition, and as a result the patient may not receive necessary treatment. This is known as diagnostic overshadowing. , CMA and CPA recommend comprehensive efforts to change the culture of stigmatization of mental illness, in the health care system and in society. A number of interventions are underway to help reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness. These include public awareness programs such as the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, Mental Illness Awareness Week, sponsored by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, and the Opening Minds program of the MHCC, which focuses on specific populations including youth and health care providers. The current consensus among experts is that the most effective interventions are those that:
are aimed at changing behaviour rather than modifying attitudes;
are ongoing rather than time limited;
are targeted to specific groups rather than to the general population; and
involve direct contact with people with mental illness. Within the health care system, professional education is a potentially important means of addressing stigma and discrimination. It has been recommended that anti-stigma education be incorporated into the medical education continuum at all levels (including residency and CPD) and for all specialties and that this education incorporate direct contact with people with mental illness, to share their stories of recovery.27 All health professionals and their associations should be encouraged to address the elimination of stigma in their educational programs. CMA and CPA have worked with partners to provide education to physicians, through workshops, online materials and other means. Recommendations Governments and the health care system 21. Incorporate identification and elimination of stigma as a quality of care indicator in the ongoing monitoring of health system performance at all levels. 22. Implement and evaluate national public awareness and education strategies to counteract the stigma associated with mental illness. 23. Enforce legislation and regulations to guard against discrimination against people with mental illness. Professional education 24. Incorporate effective anti-stigma education into the entire medical education continuum (medical school, residency and CPD) for all physicians and other health professionals. 25. Incorporate effective anti-stigma education into professional development programs at hospitals and other health care facilities. Conclusion Despite increased public awareness about mental illness, ensuring access to effective mental health services and supports remains a challenge in Canada, and the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness remain high. CMA and CPA believe that change is possible. In an ideal future, all Canadians would feel safe acknowledging their mental health problems and seeking help for them, a range of effective, evidence-based treatments would be available for every Canadian who needs them, and communities would support Canadians as they work to promote and maintain their mental health or to recover from mental illness. It is our hope that health care providers, governments, communities, patients and their families will work together toward realizing this future. References Mental Health Commission of Canada. The Facts. Calgary (AB): The Commission; 2012. Available: http://strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca/the-facts/ (accessed 2015 May 05). Mental Health Commission of Canada. Making the case for investing in mental health in Canada. Calgary (AB): The Commission; 2013. Chesney E, Goodwin GM, Fazel S. Risks of all-cause and suicide mortality in mental disorders: a meta-review. World Psychiatry 2014; 13 (2):53–60. Mental Health Commission of Canada. Changing directions, changing lives: the Mental Health Strategy for Canada. Calgary (AB): The Commission; 2012. Available: https://strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca/download (accessed 2014 Sep 07). Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Mental illnesses and addictions: facts and statistics. Toronto (ON): The Centre; 2016. Available: www.camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/newsroom/for_reporters/Pages/addictionmentalhealthstatistics.aspx (accessed 2016 Mar 9). Mental Health Commission of Canada. Opening minds. Ottawa (ON): The Commission; 2016. Available: http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/initiatives/11874/opening-minds (accessed 2016 Mar 9). Statistics Canada. Canadian Community Health Survey: mental health, 2012 [media release]. Ottawa (ON): Statistics Canada; 2013 Sep 18. Available: www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/130918/dq130918a-eng.htm?HPA (accessed 2015 Sep 08). Mental Health Commission of Canada. About MHCC. Ottawa (ON): The Commission; 2016. Available: www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/who-we-are (accessed 2016 Mar 10). 9 Prime Minister of Canada. Minister of Health Mandate letter to the Hon. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, November 2015. Ottawa (ON): Office of the Prime Minister of Canada; 2015. Available: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister-health-mandate-letter (accessed 2016 Apr 14). Canadian Medical Association. Health care transformation in Canada: change that works. Care that lasts. Ottawa (ON): The Association; 2010. Available: http://policybase.cma.ca/dbtw-wpd/PolicyPDF/PD10-05.PDF (accessed 2015 Sep 14). Neilson G, Chaimowitz G. Informed consent to treatment in psychiatry. A position paper of the Canadian Psychiatric Association. Can J Psychiatry. 60 (4):1-12. Available: http://publications.cpa-apc.org/media.php?mid=1889 (accessed 2016 Mar 9). Ontario ACT Association. ACT model: the team approach. [Place unknown]: The Association; 2015. Available: http://ontarioacttassociation.com/act-model/ (accessed 2015 Mar 25). Kates N, Mazowita G, Lemire F, et al. The evolution of collaborative mental health care in Canada: a shared vision for the future. A position paper developed by the Canadian Psychiatric Association and the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Can J Psychiatry. 2011; 56(5): 1-10. Available: http://www.cfpc.ca/uploadedFiles/Directories/Committees_List/Collaborative%20mental%20health%20care-2011-49-web-FIN-EN.pdf (accessed 2014 Oct 16). Whiteman H. Mental illness linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke. Medical News Today. 2014, Oct 27. Available: www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284461.php (accessed 2015 Mar 25). Mental Health Core Competencies Steering Committee. Mental health core competencies for physicians. Ottawa (ON): Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Mental Health Commission of Canada, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Canadian Psychiatric Association and Canadian Medical Association; 2014. Available: www.royalcollege.ca/portal/page/portal/rc/common/documents/policy/mhcc_june2014_e.pdf (accessed 2016 Mar 9). Canadian Collaborative Mental Health Initiative. Toolkits. Mississauga (ON): The Initiative; n.d.. Available: www.shared-care.ca/page.aspx?menu=69&app=266&cat1=745&tp=2&lk=no (accessed 2014 Oct 16) Curran V, Ungar T, Pauzé E. Strengthening collaboration through interprofessional education: a resource for collaborative mental health care educators. Mississauga (ON): Canadian Collaborative Mental Health Initiative; 2006 Feb. Available: www.shared-care.ca/files/EN_Strengtheningcollaborationthroughinterprofessionaleducation.pdf (accessed 2016 Mar 9). Canadian Medical Association. Health and health care for an aging population: policy summary of the Canadian Medical Association. Ottawa (ON): The Association; 2013 Feb. Available: http://policybase.cma.ca/dbtw-wpd/Policypdf/PD14-03.pdf (accessed 2014 Sep 14). Mental Health Commission of Canada. Informing the future: mental health indicators for Canada. Ottawa (ON): The Commission; 2015 Jan. Available: www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/document/68796/informing-future-mental-health-indicators-canada (accessed 2016 Mar 09). Wait Time Alliance. Time to close the gap: report card on wait times in Canada. Ottawa (ON): The Alliance; 2014 June. Available: www.waittimealliance.ca/wta-reports/2014-wta-report-card/ Canadian Psychiatric Association. Tracking access to psychiatric care needed to chart a way forward say psychiatrists [media release]. Ottawa (ON): The Association; 2015 Dec 8. Available: www.cpa-apc.org/media.php?mid=2385 (accessed 2016 Mar 09). CMA Physician Data Centre. Canadian physician statistics: general practitioners/family physicians per 100,000 population by province/territory, 1986-2014. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Medical Association; 2014. Available: www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/14-FP_per_pop.pdf (accessed 2016 Mar 09). Canadian Collaborative Centre for Physician Resources. Psychiatry: a recent profile of the profession [bulletin]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Medical Association; 2012 Apr. Available: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/25-Psychiatry.pdf#search=psychiatry%20a%20recent%20profile (accessed 2016 Mar 09). Sargeant JK, Adey T, McGregor F, et al. Psychiatric human resources planning in Canada: a position paper of the Canadian Psychiatric Association. Can J Psychiatry 2010; 55 (9): 1-20. Available: http://publications.cpa-apc.org/media.php?mid=1015 (accessed 2015 Sep 14). Conference Board of Canada. Mental health issues in the labour force: reducing the economic impact on Canada. Ottawa (ON): The Board; 2012 Jul. Mental Health Commission of Canada, Canadian Standards Association. CAN/CSA-Z1003-13/BNQ 9700-803/2013 - Psychological health and safety in the workplace — prevention, promotion, and guidance to staged implementation. Toronto (ON): CSA Group; 2013. Available: http://shop.csa.ca/en/canada/occupational-health-and-safety-management/cancsa-z1003-13bnq-9700-8032013/invt/z10032013 (accessed 2014 Oct 10). Mental Health Commission of Canada. Turning the key: Assessing housing and related supports for persons living with mental health problems and illnesses. Ottawa (ON): The Commission; 2012. Available: www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/media/3055 (accessed 2014 Oct 10). Mental Health Commission of Canada. National final report: Cross-Site At Home/Chez Soi Project. Ottawa (ON): The Commission; 2014. Available: www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/document/24376/national-homechez-soi-final-report (accessed 2015 May 15). Hawthorne D; Major S; Jaworski M; et al. Combatting stigma for physicians and other health professionals. Ottawa (ON): MDcme.ca; 2011. Available https://www.mdcme.ca/courseinfo.asp?id=143 (accessed 2015 May 15). Abbey SE, Charbonneau M, Tranulis C, et al. Stigma and discrimination. Can J Psychiatry 2011; 56(10): 1-9. Available: http://publications.cpa-apc.org/media.php?mid=1221 (accessed 2015 Aug 4). Pietrus M. Opening Minds interim report. Calgary (AB): Mental Health Commission of Canada; 2013. Available: www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/document/17491/opening-minds-interim-report (accessed 2015 Aug 4). Mental Health Commission of Canada. Together against stigma: changing how we see mental illness: a report on the 5th International Stigma Conference, Ottawa (ON), 2012 Jun 4–6. Ottawa (ON): The Commission; 2013. Available: www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/media/3347 (accessed 2014 Oct 14).
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Toward a National Strategy on Mental Illness and Mental Health : CMA Presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy2008
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2004-03-31
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2004-03-31
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Thank you, honourable Senators, for the opportunity to speak on the critical need to address mental health and mental illness in Canada. In my remarks today I want to talk briefly about the dimensions of the issues, the instruments available to government to address them, and the CMA’s specific thoughts and recommendations on moving forward. Dimensions of the problem As the members of this committee know, the economic toll exacted by mental health disorders, including stress and distress topped 14 billion dollars in 1998. The human cost, however, extends far beyond dollars and cents. Estimates show that about one in five Canadians — close to six million people — will be affected by mental illness at some point in their life. This problem climbs still higher if one includes the serious problem of addiction to illicit drugs, alcohol, prescription drugs and the increasingly serious emerging problem of gambling addiction. Yet our society and health care system remains woefully inadequate in promoting mental health and in delivering care and treatment where and when needed. These systemic shortcomings have been exacerbated by the twin barriers of stigma and discrimination. These barriers have a detrimental effect on recovery from mental illness and addictions by hindering access to services, treatment and acceptance in the community. This is especially unfortunate because effective treatment exists for most mental illnesses and addictions. Poor mental health affects all aspects of a person’s life and requires a collaborative approach. Family physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses and other counselors can be involved in one patient’s mental health care. While family physicians can deal with a number of mental illnesses, most are not trained in the complicated medical management of severe mental illness. Many family physicians’ offices are also not sufficiently resourced to deal with family counseling, or related issues such as housing, educational and occupational problems often associated with mental illness. As a family physician myself I should be assured that, when a patient’s mental health care requires additional expertise, the appropriate resources are available for my patients and their families. Physicians are striving to ensure that the care is provided by the appropriate caregiver at the appropriate time. For example the Shared Mental Health Care initiative of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Canadian Psychiatric Association is designed to lead to better outcomes for patients. I know the committee will hear more about this initiative from the Canadian Psychiatric Association. I mention it now simply as a reminder that progress is being made and even more could be gained with the establishment of a national strategy to address mental illness and mental health. Canada is the only G8 nation without such a national strategy. This oversight has contributed significantly to fragmented mental health services, chronic problems such as lengthy waiting lists for children’s mental health services and dire health human resource shortages. Case in point, there are no child psychiatrists in the northern territories, where such care is so desperately needed. Planning to correct the problem The fragmented state of mental health services in Canada did not develop overnight and it would be overly simplistic to say problems can be solved immediately. However, it is important to understand that there are means available to the federal government to better meet its obligations with respect to surveillance, prevention of mental illness and promotion of mental health. The way forward has been clearly described by the Canadian Alliance for Mental Illness and Mental Health, and the October 2002 National Summit on Mental Health and Mental Illness hosted by the CMA, and the Canadian Psychological and Psychiatric Associations. This gathering helped define the form that a national strategy should take. Participants recommended a focus on national mental health goals, a policy framework that includes research, surveillance, education, mental health promotion and a health resources plan, adequate and sustained funding; and an accountability mechanism. In addition to a national strategy, the CMA believes it is also important to recognize the deleterious effect of the exclusion of a “hospital or institution primarily for the mentally disordered” from the application of the Canada Health Act. Simply put, how are we to overcome stigma and discrimination if we validate these sentiments in our federal legislation? The CMA firmly believes that the development of a national strategy and action plan on mental health and mental illness is the single most important step that can be taken on this issue. The plan also requires support, wheels if you will, to overcome the inertia that has foiled attempts thus far. Those wheels come in the form of five specific actions that are listed at the back of the presentation. But, to summarize, they would include: * Amending the Canada Health Act to include psychiatric hospitals. * Adjusting the Canada Health Transfer to provide for these additional insured services. * Re-establishing an adequately-resourced federal organizational unit focused on Mental Illness and Mental Health and addictions. * The review of federal health policies and programs to ensure that mental illness is on par in terms of benefits with other chronic diseases and disabilities. * An effective national public awareness strategy to reduce the stigma associated with mental illnesses and addictions in Canadian society. Looking inward While my remarks have focused on the broad status of mental health initiatives in Canada, the mental health status of Canadian health care providers is also of concern to the CMA. In recent years, evidence has shown that physician stress and dissatisfaction is rising and morale is low. The CMA’s 2003 Physician Resource Questionnaire found that 45.7% of physicians are in an advanced state of burnout. Physicians, particularly women physicians, appear to be at a higher risk of suicide than the general population. The CMA has been involved in a number of activities to address this situation, including last year’s launch of the Centre for Physician Health and Well-Being. The Centre functions as a clearinghouse and coordinating body to support research and provide trusted information to physicians, physicians in training and their families. A first activity of the Centre was to provide, through partnership with the CIHR’s Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, $100,000 in physician health research funding. This funding is currently supporting two research projects. One will develop a guide of common indicators for Canadian physician health programs. This will generate a national profile of the physicians who use the programs, the services provided, and their outcomes. The second will study the psychodynamics of physicians’ work to allow for a better understanding of the dynamics of problems such as stress, burnout, addiction and violence in the workplace. These efforts must be bolstered - other health providers are also impacted by mental illness and need support. The health care provider community needs help in terms of the reduction of stigma, access to resources and supportive environments. Conclusion I know some of what I have said today will have been familiar to members of the committee given the impressive list of roundtables, witness testimony and submissions you have reviewed already as part of your study on mental health. I only hope my comments will be of help in your important efforts and lead to real progress on addressing the largely unmet mental health and mental illness needs in Canada. Recommendations for Action CMA Submission to the Senate Social Affairs, Science and Technology 1. That the federal government make the legislative and/or regulatory amendments necessary to ensure that psychiatric hospital services are subject to the five program criteria of the Canada Health Act. 2. That, in conjunction with legislative and/or regulatory changes, funding to the provinces/territories through the Canada Health Transfer be adjusted to provide for federal cost sharing in both one-time investment and ongoing cost of these additional insured services. 3. That the federal government re-establishes an adequately resourced organizational unit focused on Mental Illness and Mental Health and addictions within Health Canada or the new Canadian Agency for Public Health. This new unit will coordinate mental health and mental illness program planning, policy coordination and delivery of mental health services in areas of federal jurisdiction. The unit would also work with provinces and territories, and the Canada Health Council to enact the National Action Plan endorsed at the National Summit on Mental Illness and Mental Health. Specific responsibilities would include fostering research through federal bodies such as the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), and disseminating best practices in the provision of mental health programs and services in Canada. 4. That the federal government review federal policies such as disability policy, tax policy, income support policy to ensure that mental illness is on par in terms of benefits with other chronic diseases and disabilities. 5. That the federal government work with the provinces and territories and the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health to develop an effective national public awareness strategy to reduce the stigma associated with mental illnesses and addictions in Canadian society.
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