Lack of access to mental health services impacts all Canadians. And with the difficulty people face trying to locate mental health services, what can be changed?
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, it is estimated that 10-20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder, while 20 per cent of Canadians will personally experience mental illness in their lifetime.
Mental health is the key to our well-being, but national policies have historically lacked proper funding and attention, with only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receiving care, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Currently, Canada is the only G7 country without a national mental health strategy.
However, the CMHA York Region and South Simcoe division of the Canadian Mental Health Association have taken a transformational approach to youth mental health in the region by launching Ontario’s first mobile health clinic for ages 12 to 25.
The 39-foot truck, which was funded by a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, promises to offer its mental health services to young people, including a private exam room, a curtained-off space for one-on-one counselling and an open lounge, which one day will house group sessions. The truck is available to children all throughout York Region and South Simcoe area by locating itself in mall and school parking lots and skate parks. The updated schedule can be found on www.MOBYSS.ca.
It has been reported that 2 in 3 people suffer in silence, fearing judgment and rejection, and because of that, Rebecca Shields, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region and South Simcoe Region, has gone on record stating, “After reviewing the greatest needs facing our community and the current research literature, youth mental health quickly surfaced as a top priority.”
While the lack of services is the biggest barrier to those aged 12 to 25, it is absolutely imperative that we reach out to those in need (according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group) and help build relationships with those young adults seeking help as well as provide them with a safe place to discuss and face their mental health assistance and not be stigmatized.
Currently the mobile health clinic is only offered in York Region and South Simcoe Region, but it is hoping it can provide enough evaluation and research to showcase the success of its service for young adults and hopefully become a model for other potential mobile health clinics across Canada.