What Canada Did For Mental Health During The Pandemic
Lately I’ve been responding to a number of ideas from a book called We Can Do Better by Professor David Goldbloom. I was actually invited to review an advanced reading copy of it prior to publication on May 4th. Today though, per the title, I wanted to draw attention to a number of things the Canadian Liberal government has done for sufferers of mental illness since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wasn’t aware of this before reading the book.
And it may offer a sound case for similar initiatives that can be recommended to governments around the globe. Although, I’m hoping they don’t need another scourge to find the inspiration.
For the record — just by way of prolegomenon — I should say that I’m not endorsing Justin Trudeau’s government. I don’t particularly like the guy, personally, although I think our values certainly align far more than they do with the Conservative party out here.
Trudeau stinks, but come on man, everything is relative!
There’s always room for criticism toward this administration’s response to the virus. It has been absolutely atrocious in certain respects, especially concerning the vaccine. But I can say that had Andrew Scheer won the last election, his response to the pandemic would have been a bloody shit-show, with his republican-styled anti-science. It would have been every-man-for-himself, “don’t come to us for a handout”, “pull yourselves up by the bootstraps”; an anti-mask, anti-vax heaven, with super-spreader libertarianism run amok. Oh, and guess what, we still would’ve run deficits!
Money well spent
So yeah, I ain’t crazy about Trudeau, but things could always be much worse. Anyway, here’s what Canada did for mental illness. Professor Goldbloom writes,
“At the beginning of May 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a virtual health care tool for all Canadians and a commitment of $240 million to support it. A national online portal, Wellness Together Canada, was quickly created.
It offers free of charge wellness self-assessment and tracking, self-guided resources and apps, group coaching and a community of support, and counselling by text or phone. It includes immediate linkage via text to crisis resources for youth, adults, and frontline workers. And it represents a coming together of government, community agencies, and the private sector in common cause to respond to an unprecedented national emergency. Change can happen quickly — within a couple of months of the pandemic disrupting the lives of all Canadians.”
Again, I don’t want to sound like a government ventriloquist, because I do have many issues with how things have been handled. But this is fundamentally the posture we should be taking towards mental illness, isn’t it! This is how I worded it in my official review of this book. I said,
“…here’s what we do know: when technological innovation, psychopharmacology, advocacy, corporate funding, academe, cutting-edge therapies, coaching, and perhaps most prominently, an invested and maternal public purse cooperate with one another…EVERYTHING improves!”
In future articles, I’ll show overwhelmingly why this is the case. It’s not only inhumane of a government to not make mental health a priority — with or without a pandemic in the world — it’s actually extremely costly. And what’s so neat about the Wellness Together Canada online portal, you’ll notice, is it’s not just frivolous spending on something that will take years to implement, such as training more psychiatrists. It’s far more expansive an idea than that.
“…it represents a coming together of government, community agencies, and the private sector in common cause to respond to an unprecedented national emergency.” — David Goldbloom, We Can Do Better
The reality is — and I’ll be publishing a blog respecting this point specifically — more psychiatrists is not the only answer to our mental health crisis in Canada. All those things Goldbloom mentioned there: self-assessment, tracking, apps, group coaching, counselling by text or phone, etc. These can work miracles for people!
Granted, Wellness Together Canada is not like a year-long therapy program with a psychiatric professional for extreme cases. Besides, it was never designed with such a purpose in mind. The name of the game here is accessibility — helping people with their most immediate needs before a few symptoms mushroom into a full-blow psychological breakdown and diagnosis.
The economic devastation mental illness routinely spells for not only families and small businesses due to medical leave, but also the immediate toll it takes on emergency services is enormous. It can’t be overstated! This, too, will be itemized in future blogs. So the government needs to play some role. And there are extremely encouraging data I will get into on this in other works.
The name of the game here is accessibility — helping people with their most immediate needs before a few symptoms mushroom into a full-blow psychological breakdown and diagnosis.
So Canada ain’t perfect, but things could be worse. And that’s important to remember. Be sure to check out Wellness Together Canada here. It’s an incredible thing you should take advantage of if you need the help.
Tell me what you think of this below in the remarks. Many are understandably hesitant to grant the state more funds in a down economy. In fact, on conservative philosophy (more so in the US) it is believed that such a step is fundamentally undemocratic because it’s supposedly anti-capital. But just think, if you as a taxpayer are expected to pick up the tab anyways, and actually spend more in terms of emergency relief and medical leave (among many other items), do you think such right-wing objections are reasonable? I think it’s asinine! That is, of course, an opinion. Tell me yours below and further the conversation.