Strengthening the case for investing in Canada’s mental health system

Since the 2013 release of Making the Case for Investing in Mental Health in Canada, the MHCC has been articulating an unassailable argument that failing to address the mental wellness of our population poses a very real threat to our economy.

In March 2017, we published Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada’s Mental Health System: Economic Considerations, which refreshes and updates the 2013 report by examining where investments can have the greatest impact, demonstrating that wise mental health spending pays dividends.

Strengthening the Case reinforces three broad areas for action: prevention and promotion, community-based services for common mental illnesses and specialized services for people living with severe mental illness.

“Reimagining a more effective, responsive mental health system will require long-term investments in a range of services, from prevention and early intervention to access to psychotherapy and community-based services. Thus far, the response to the federal commitment is heartening, with many provinces and territories allocating funds to areas with the largest payoff.” – The Hon. Michael Wilson, P.C., C.C., Chair of the Board, Mental Health Commission of Canada Toronto Star, March 8, 2017

As quoted in the 2017 federal budget, which invested $5 billion over 10 years for mental health initiatives through the new Health Accord

We know that 1.6 million people in Canada report that their need for mental health care is unmet. As a society, we pay a high price for not meeting those needs. The cost of maintaining the status quo is well over $50 billion annually, and rising.

But Strengthening the Case puts forward a compelling economic impetus for narrowing the spending gap between mental and physical health care:

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For every dollar spent on providing psychotherapy to more people, $2 is saved.


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Investing in the early years can save the system nearly 25 per cent in publicly funded services per person.


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Collaborative care provided to people on short-term disability can result in 16 fewer days absent.


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Providing six psychotherapy sessions in primary care for aging adults, as opposed to sedatives or no treatment, has as much as $13,000 in economic benefits.

“Strengthening the Case provides evidence on value for money investments that will improve people’s lives and health outcomes.” – Steve Lurie, Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association – Toronto Branch