As Canadians, one system that distinguishes us from other nations is our universal health care provision. Canada invests in its people, taking care of the sick or wounded displaying our values of equity and solidarity. Though our heart may be in the right place, the road to equitable provision of all facets of health care is difficult and complicated, with financial, political, and social barriers leaving many Canadians underserviced. In 2012, Statistics Canada revealed that 1.6million Canadians requiring mental health services found that help was unavailable or insufficient. A majority of this demographic indicated that failure of the health care system was due to budget cuts or lack of accessibility, or personal circumstances such as social stigma and scheduling conflicts.
As counsellors and therapists, we wish that all Canadians can access sufficient mental health services, but how can we satisfy the great demand of mental health needs when there are so many kinks in the system?
Information technology (IT) has captured every aspect of daily life. Shopping, banking, networking, research, and a multitude of other activities can be done online. Due to its ease of access, portability, and shrinking barrier of entry, people from all walks of life and social economic backgrounds can access these resources. Furthermore, IT has pushed the boundaries in all fields, leading to a global change in business, governance, and communication.
It is apparent that we fear becoming over dependent on technology, but perhaps that fear is premature. It is not always well known how technology influences the relationship of people with objects and others. However, this fear does not negate the contributions that IT has already made to each of our lives. This digital revolution has offered us a blank canvas on which each of us project our inclinations and dispositions. Some developers race towards new platforms for social engagement. For example, 7 cups of tea is a social networking site that connects people looking for support with “listeners”. Being an online service, there are no constraints on time and space, completely eliminating the need for scheduling or transportation. Internet access can now readily and conveniently connect those who need help, with those who wish to give help. This is one such platform which exists that can supplement our mental health needs.
Getting mental health services is not simple. There are a multitude of issues that may dissuade a person from seeking help whether they are internally or externally generated. There may be many barriers between Canadians and getting the help they need, however there are solutions which are visible on the horizon. It may be very soon that we find ourselves inundated with new technologies to aid us in securing mental health.
Photo courtesy of http://imgur.com/gallery/dwPA7.
Correction: June 21, 2016
This article had reported that 16.1million Canadians requiring mental health services found insufficient provisions. These numbers are incorrect and the article has since changed the number of Canadians requiring mental health services to be the accurate amount of 1.6million.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA