Immediate Mental Health Commitment Needed Despite Downturn
Friends of Medicare are calling on the Alberta government to prioritize greater investment in mental health in light of the released "Valuing Mental Health" report.
"The increased funding for mental health in Budget 2015 was a welcome first step towards improved mental health services, yesterdays report indicates greater investment is needed," said communications staff Trevor Zimmerman.
"The Ministry's immediate commitments to add new detoxification beds, to partner with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to address opiate addiction, and other steps are welcome," added Zimmerman. "The report notes the recommended amount of funding for mental health is nine to thirteen percent of health spending, however Alberta is only providing six percent. The report also states that recommendations to increase funding could take as long as four years to implement, at the same time recognizing that delays and inadequate treatment will contribute to rising health care costs. An immediate investment can pay off in future savings."
"We also believe the report falls short on looking at cost barriers to mental health services, with no recommendations to add coverage for prescription medication or psychological services to the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. We hope to see this addressed by the Addiction and Mental Health Implementation team."
"The reality is mental health problems don't get any better when the price of oil goes down, and a mental health system that was described as the "worst in the country" by the NDP a year ago needs the full commitment of the recommended actions now, not based on later hopes of economic recovery," Zimmerman continued. "Albertans and our government need to have a serious conversation about priorities. We should take action to fully invest in and improve mental health, which requires a serious look at raising our provincial revenues."