You are hereHome ›
Developing a Framework for a Mental Health Care Strategy for Canada
Developing a Framework for a Mental Health Strategy for Canada was a project started by the Mental Health Commission of Canada that took place from June 2008 until September 2009. The goal of the project was to increase awareness of the issue of mental health to the nation and to create and frame an official strategy for the country of Canada to adhere to, in order to properly address the issue as a unified nation.
Purpose and Problem
In Canada, due to the constitution, mental health care is mainly the responsibility and under the discretion of individual provinces. Because of this, the country did not have an overarching national "mental health strategy". It is very important that a strategy be implemented because "each year, about one in every five Canadians will experience a diagnosable mental health problem or illness" and only about "one-third of Canadians living with a mental health problem ... obtain the services or supports that could help them". The problem is much worse for children for which only a quarter receives the necessary specialized treatment.
A strong collaborative strategy would transform a mental health system to promote a higher quality of life for the diverse needs of those who need assistance with their mental health. With collaboration from federal and provincial governments, community partners, the mental health commission, and willing individual Canadian participants, the country will progress in achieving a more effective mental health care system.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada was created in 2007 with collaboration of the provincial and federal government in order to be the means by which a nationwide mental health strategy was developed. By doing so, the federal and provincial governments realized that mental health was being overlooked and needed addressing.
In June 2008, the Commission was to initiate the process that would develop the first official framework for a mental health strategy. This project called upon around 2,500 Canadian participants from government, community groups, or individuals passionate about mental health, and over 400 stakeholder groups to participate directly in framing the strategy. By September 2009, the desired framework was set into place after the Commissions collaboration and spending approximately $1 Million (U.S.) on funding.
Participants were targeted and selected based on their past or current experiences with mental health care. The Commission wished to choose people who had various kinds of first hand experience with mental health problems and illnesses with their family members, by being a caregiver, being a part of a mental health stakeholder group, being involved with the government, having experience with the mental health of aboriginal peoples specifically, or experiencing mental health issue in academics. They also wished to target advocates, researchers, policy experts and those who were even just concerned and willing to be involved with mental health. Approximately 2,500 participants were actively involved in developing the framework.
Deliberation and Public Interaction
The Commission produced and set out with 8 goals in completing the initial framework for a mental health strategy. The Commission believed it to be very critical to include a diverse group of framers and wanted a wide array of people to get as many points of view as possible on the desired strategy for the mental health care framework and the analyzing the 8 goals. The Commission's agenda in order to set the framework and strategy of mental health was by working together to be collaborative, having diverse participation to be inclusive, being understanding of the diversity of needs to be adaptable, and by being realistic and fair to be practical. First the Commission planned to frame what the health care system would look like and consequently how this framed health care system would be attained by the nation.
Committees - The Commission consisted of 8 permanent Advisory Committees: Child and Youth, Mental Health and the Law; Seniors, First Nations, First Nations Inuit and Métis, Workforce, Family Caregivers, and Service Systems of Science. These committees supply suggestions and help the Commission in being involved with the stakeholder community. These committees consist of a Advisory Committee Chairman who is an expert in their respective field and mediates; and of Canadians who contribute their personal experiences to discuss and address each issue.
Online Participation - A participation website was developed to gather opinions and input of the general public of Canada from February 11th, 2009 until March 31, 2009. Online participants had the opportunity to read summaries of the proposed framework and provide feedback to each goal by answering closed and open-ended questions regarding the strategies. Also, online participants were provided the opportunity to input "free form" comments by way of personal stories, suggestions, and had the option to do so anonymously. Over 1,700 members of the general public and 300 stakeholder groups participated and represented every Canadian province.
Regional Dialogues - From February to April 2009, 12 full day regional meetings were held in St. John's, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, Vancouver, Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit. Each consisted of a diverse group of around 30 to 40 participants meeting in sessions to learn the proposed strategies and discuss the goals. Approximately 450 individuals participated nationwide.
Following receiving the input of the general Canadian public and the stakeholders, the Commission redrafted the framework to fit the suggestions and critiques, included "the insertion of a vision statement, a reframing of the goal statements, rewording key concepts and the elimination of goal". The finalized 7 goals are as follows:
1) First, People of all ages living with mental health problems and illnesses are actively engaged and supported in their journey of recovery and well being.
2) Mental health is promoted, and mental health problems and illnesses are prevented wherever possible.
3)The mental health system responds to the diverse needs of all people in Canada.
4)The role of families in promoting well-being and providing care is recognized, and their needs are supported.
5)People have equitable and timely access to appropriate and effective programs, treatments, services and supports, that are seamlessly integrated around their needs.
6)Actions are informed by the best evidence based on multiple sources of knowledge, outcomes are measured, and research is advanced.
7)People living with mental health problems and illnesses are fully included as valued members of society.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
One major influence the development of the framework has had is increasing the level of awareness and understanding of the importance of issue of mental health care. Increasing awareness in turn increases identifying potential problems in their immediate personal lives. Also, starting this program will only result in the Commission becoming more effective as they learn to engage in more diversity and strike up advocacy to gain national attention and prevalence to the general public. This influence on Canada has resulted in a specific vision for Canada to take as a nation, seek to accomplish goals, and get the entire nation to be informed and updated on current visions.
In meeting the criteria for deliberation, the development of the mental health care strategy did a good job in doing so.
Analytic Process - A solid information base was created by involving a diverse group of people consisting of those who were passionate about mental health care and shared their personal experiences to shape the strategy of this sensitive subject. Also, the Commission gathered research of the facts on mental health in the country of Canada as a whole. Key values were stated in their goals, which was stating that it was imperative that Canada frames a strategy for mental health care. A broad range of solutions were considered by setting the goals and creating a vision for the future to address the issue. All was considered regarding each goal and the Commission was truly deliberating to make the best decision possible for the entire Canadian people.
Social Process - Equal speaking opportunities or participation opportunities were definitely present in the facilitated Advisory Committees, online participation websites, and regional dialogues. Mutual comprehension was important to the Commission when each meeting was systematically going through the strategies, each specific goal, and asking for input, because again, the end goal of an effective strategy was always kept in mind for the betterment of the Canadian people. All ideas were considered to achieve the best framework possible and there was definitely a level of mutual respect throughout.
Criticism - The ideologies behind the Commission and the framing of the strategy were great and well organized. The intention was for the greater good, specific goals were set, deliberative measures were put into effect to improve those goals and there was a impressive amount of cooperation. However, the Commission could have done a better job of reaching out and increasing awareness to a greater extent. The framing was effective in deliberation in its own functions, but could have been more effective in causing a national spark and increasing national participation in political issues. More public exposure could have caused a bigger impact.
"Developing a Framework for a Mental Health Strategy for Canada." Reinhard Mohn Prize 2011 | Vitalizing Democracy through Participation. 20 Aug. 2010. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <http://www.vitalizing-democracy.org/discoursemachine.php?page=detail&id_item=1190&detail_layout_field=itemtype_layoutmisc4&menucontext=4>.
"Framework for Action on Mental Illness and Mental Health." Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. <http://www.camimh.ca>.
Gastil, John. Political Communication and Deliberation. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2008. 20. Print.
"Toward Recovery and Well Being." Mental Health Commission. Mental Health Commission of Canada, Nov. 2009. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. <http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca>.