Letter: We would never wait until stage 4 to treat cancer

Tuesday, May 9 2017

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Mid Island Branch is pleased to be celebrating the 66th Annual Mental Health Week from May 1 - 7. This year our week coincides with the lead up to the BC Provincial election and we have asked local candidates what they will do to support mental health if they are elected.

Approximately seven million Canadians - 20 percent of us - live with poor mental health, mental illness or addiction. Too often it is kept hidden because of the associated discrimination and stigma. During Mental Health Week we are asking the public to Get Loud about mental health by sharing their stories (one in five Canadians experience a mental illness and/or an addiction in any given year), showing their support for mental health by using the hashtag #GetLoud on social media, volunteering with CMHA Mid Island, and/ or contacting their local election candidates and asking them how they will support mental health.

 Research shows that almost 70 per cent of BC children and youth living with mental health problems do not receive the treatment they need. We know that early intervention and prevention is key, but wait times are long because mental health care has been dramatically underfunded.

We would never knowingly wait until stage 4 to treat cancer, diabetes or heart disease. So why have we been waiting until stage 4 to address mental health and addiction? To bring attention to the disparity between physical and mental health care treatment, the Canadian Mental Health Association has launched the campaign b4stage4. We believe action in these five areas will lead to better mental health in our province:

• Focus on prevention and early intervention

• Build an accessible addictions health care system

• Strengthen recovery closer to home, in community

• Improve crisis care

• Lead change in mental health and addictions

CMHA Mid Island is working to change the way we think about mental health and addictions and we are encouraging all British Columbians to call for a system of care that values mental health, addiction and physical health equally. Learn more about the #b4stage4 campaign at www.b4stage4.ca and see what you can do to contribute.

~ Jason Harrison, Executive Director, Mid Island Branch

Canadian Mental Health Association