For too long, mental health has seemed to be a low priority in Alberta. The will to expand, resource, and appropriately fund a comprehensive and integrated mental health system has been missing. One of the few studies and the most recent one done by the previous government was done in 2014. “Gap Analysis of Public Mental Health and Addictions Programs (GAP-MAP) Final Report” indicated that the most common problem reported was a lack of access to counselling. This service is offered through Alberta Health Services, but there is often a long wait to see a therapist. Many of the respondents to this study indicated that they couldn’t afford counselling services in the private sector.
Accessibility, affordability and timeliness of care will continue to be a major problem if appropriate policy and delivery changes are not urgently implemented. Good mental health programming means more than just added costs to the health system. Using proven treatment methods and delivery models we can replace more expensive programs such as policing, courts, corrections, hospitals, child protection services and income supports when dealing with Albertans who are living with mental health and addictions issues. We can also minimize costly disruptions to employment and education, but first and foremost ensuring that Albertans overall quality of life and well-being is significantly improved.