Ottawa must make meaningful investments in youth mental health in Budget 2021 to ensure recovery
COVID-19 is disrupting the lives and hopes of young people, especially those vulnerable because of poverty, trauma and other inequalities. Even before the pandemic, mental health and well-being were a concern for many youth and their families. The pandemic has exacerbated the lack of access to care in our communities. Now more than ever, the federal government must make meaningful investments in high-quality, accessible, friendly and effective youth mental health services.
ACCESS Open Minds
ACCESS Open Minds (Esprits ouverts), a pan-Canadian network dedicated to improving the health and well-being of young people, has been testing and evaluating an innovative mental health care model. According to recently released preliminary data, this model is positively transforming youth mental health service delivery.
As governments look to facilitate economic recovery, they must also work to ensure greater access to mental health services, particularly in the teenage and young adult years when nearly all new cases of mental health problems emerge.
The government can start by heeding the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance’s recommendation to “Develop and implement a long-term mental health COVID-19 recovery plan to ensure all Canadians – especially the most vulnerable – can access the care they need, no matter where they live.”
The data being generated by ACCESS Open Minds should act as the backbone for making evidence-based service and policy decisions. Two key things are needed. First, all jurisdictions must make high-quality mental health care accessible to young people free of cost. Second, we need a pan-Canadian youth mental health network that can coordinate research, evaluation and data-driven decision-making, facilitate knowledge-sharing and best practices, build capacities and promote innovation across the country.