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A Campaign for Improved Access to Counsellors and Psychotherapists in Canada

Canada’s mental health care system is under significant strain: an estimated 5.3 million Canadians reported they needed help for their mental health in 2017, but of these, 43% (2.3 million) reported that their mental health needs were only partially met or fully unmet. The need for counselling was the most likely to be unmet. 1

The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the need for counselling/psychotherapy services. There is evidence of self-reported worsening mental health2, increased feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, and increased use of negative coping strategies such as alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drug abuse3. Despite the availability of vaccines to manage the crisis, comparable long-term outcomes from the SARS virus indicate that 64% of survivors experienced mental health complications one year later, and 1/3 had a diagnosable mental illness after 2.5 years4.

Early access to mental health support in a pandemic is essential, and the barriers to accessing these supports must be addressed in order to manage the expected “echo pandemic” in mental health.

Improving access to counsellors and psychotherapists is essential in order to address the barriers in accessing mental health services:

This election, it’s time to call on all parties to ensure the Federal Government encourages a national benchmark for mental health services that provide equitable access to ALL mental health service providers – including counsellors and psychotherapists – for ALL Canadians! The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association’s (CCPA) campaign centers around three major federal barriers in providing equitable and accessible mental health care to Canadians:

1 – GST/HST exclusion for all mental health services, including those provided by counsellors and psychotherapists

2 – Permanent inclusion of counsellors and psychotherapists in the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP)

3 – Inclusion of all counsellors and psychotherapists nation-wide in the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Plan for First Nations and Inuit

Join our movement and raise awareness with your 2021 federal candidates about these disparities in accessing counselling and psychotherapy services! Send one, or all, of the pre-prepared letters to your local candidates on issues related to inequitable access to counselling and psychotherapy services in Canada.

Share the campaign with family, friends, co-workers! For practitioners, please remember your ethical principles and standards of practice, which include prohibiting soliciting clients for support.

GST/HST exclusion for counsellors & psychotherapists

Permanent inclusion of counsellors & psychotherapists in the Public Service Health Care Plan

Inclusion of counsellors & psychotherapists in the Non-Insured Health Care Plan for First Nations and Inuit

Interested in learning more about CCPA’s advocacy work?

Visit our Advocacy page for the most thorough and up-to-date resources, or simply check out our Advocacy Toolkit, Infographic, and HESA submission below.

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CCPA’s Advocacy Toolkit for members contains everything from key messaging to letter-writing resources on matters related to access to care issues.

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CCPA’s Infographic highlights the need for improved mental health care services in Canada, and how counsellors & psychotherapists can help!

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CCPA’s submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health summarizes our recommendations to the Federal Government.

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References:

1 Moroz N, Moroz I, D’Angelo MS. Mental health services in Canada: Barriers and cost-effective solutions to increase access. Healthcare Management Forum. 2020;33(6):282-287.

2 Canadian Mental Health Association (2020), New data shows majority of Ontarians believe mental health crisis will follow COVID-19 impact. https://ontario.cmha.ca/news/new-data-shows-majority-of-ontarians-believe-mental-health-crisis-will-follow-covid-19-impact/.

3 Hopelessness and coping strategies statistics: University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine (2020). New national survey finds Canadians’ mental health eroding as pandemic continues: https://www.med.ubc.ca/news/new-national-survey-finds-canadians-mental-health-eroding-as-pandemic-continues/.

4 Center for Addiction and Mental Health (2020). Mental Health in Canada: Covid-19 and Beyond: CAMH Policy Advice.

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