CMHA welcomes new investment, wants more

The Canadian Mental Health Association is welcoming new investments in the mental health industry, but would like to see more.

The national average for mental health spending is seven per cent of the health budget. The Saskatchewan government is committing $284 million to mental health services, accounting for five per cent of the province’s health budget.

“We would like to see Saskatchewan’s mental health funding, at least meeting the national average which is seven per cent of the health budget. And right now we’re set around five, we’re probably a bit better now because of this infusion,” executive director for the Saskatchewan division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Phyllis O’Connor said.

The province says it plans to hit the national average in the coming years.

“Our goal is to get to seven per cent in the time ahead. And we’re going to make every effort to continue to invest in mental health,” Premier of Saskatchewan Scott Moe said.

For now, the province is in the process of figuring out how to get there.

“There are multiple paths. I think in this case there is no golden arrow on how you achieve outcomes. And it’s going to be a number of initiatives,” Moe said.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends nine per cent of a provinces budget should focus on mental health services. O’Connor hopes to reach nine per cent in the future.

O’Connor is also concerned with community based organizations not receiving a funding increase for a fourth year in a row.

“That causes a real concern for us when it’s retaining and hiring qualified people to be running our programs, it’s really hard to keep them,” O’Connor said.

Federal and provincial funding will go towards new investments in mental health services. A total of $4.67 million will target child and adolescent mental health. Another $5.24 million will help with community access to supports, including expanding police and crisis teams in North Battleford, Moose Jaw and Yorkton.

Online mental health services will also be improved through $1.51 million invested in developing online supports.

The province has a 10-year mental health and addiction action plan to help guide funding. Several ministries, including Health, Social Services and Justice, will work together to improve services in Saskatchewan.





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