BC and Yukon Provincial Council
Whereas, psychotherapy is not included in the British Columbia Medical Services
Whereas, one in five Canadians experience a mental health issue and;
Whereas, ninety percent of people who complete suicide had a diagnosed mental illness and;
Whereas, Canadians in the lowest income group are 3 to 4 times more likely than those in the
highest income group to report poor to fair mental health; therefore be it
Resolved, that the BC and Yukon Provincial Council urge the provincial government to
include psychotherapy in the British Columbia Medical Services Plan;
Brief: Include Psychotherapy in British Colombia Medical Services Plan
Many British Columbians experience a need for mental health care, yet all too often these needs are not met through provincial health services. Listed under Services Not Covered by MSP in the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP) are the services of counsellors or psychologists. (BC) Psychologists use the treatment of psychotherapy, which is the “treatment of mental or emotional illness by talking about problems rather than by using medicine or drugs.” (Merriam-
It is estimated that “1 in 5 Canadians are affected annually by mood disorders, anxiety disorders,
schizophrenia, (attention deficit/hyperactive disorders) ADHD, conduct disorders, (oppositional defiant disorders) ODD, substance use disorders or dementia. Not only does mental illness impact individuals but it also places a significant impact on families, communities and the health care system.” (Smetanin) The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health states that, “70% of mental health problems have their onset during adolescence,” And that “People with mental illness and addictions are more likely to die prematurely than the general population.” (CAMH) “Mental illness can cut 10 to 20 years from a person’s life expectancy.” (Chesney) In 2012 almost 4,000 people in Canada died from suicide; this number had remained at a consistent rate for the previous five years. (Canada)
The Canadian Mental Health Association states that, “Studies indicate that more than 90 percent of suicide victims have a diagnosable psychiatric illness, and suicide is the most common cause of death for people with schizophrenia. Both major depression and bipolar disorder account for 15 to 25 percent of all deaths by suicide in patients with severe mood disorders.” (CMHA) “People living with long term health problems like cancer, AIDS, heart disease or Alzheimer disease are more likely to experience depression.” (CMHA) Not being able to afford help for their mental illness creates an even greater hardship, increasing the risk of suicide. Mental illnesses are treatable and suicides can be prevented.
Often people who require psychotherapy are not receiving it because it is not a service provided in the MSP. As a result, these people experience discrimination in society. (OHRC) “Canadians in the lowest income group are 3 to 4 times more likely than those in the highest income group to report poor to fair mental health...Individuals with a mental illness are much less likely to be employed. Unemployment rates are as high as 70% to 90% for people with the most severe mental illnesses.” (CAMH) This results in a downward spiral for their quality of life, as often individuals cannot afford counselling. Mental illness costs the Canadian economy about fifty billion dollars per year, which represents 2.8% of Canada’s 2011 GDP. If the number of people experiencing a mental illness could be reduced in a given year by 10%, after 10 years the economy would be saving at least $4 billion a year. (MHCC) On a smaller scale BC could realize these financial savings by including psychotherapy in the MSP.
Healthcare can be improved within British Columbia. Suicide is prevalent right across our country. With psychotherapy included in the Medical Services Plan, there could be a substantial decrease in the number of suicides completed each year. Without having psychotherapy as part of the MSP services covered, many people with mental disorders are not getting the assistance they need. Psychotherapy needs to be included as part of the Medical Services Plan in BC.
Works Cited: Include Psychotherapy in British Columbia Medical Services Plan
British Columbia, Government of, Medical Health Services Plan (MSP), Services Not Covered
by MSP, http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-
Canada, Government of, Statistics Canada, Leading causes of death, total population, by age group and sex, Canada http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&id=1020561
Canadian Mental Health Association, Toronto, Suicide Statistics, Canada and Ontario,
Canadian Mental Health Association, Victoria Office (BC Division) Get Informed,
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addictions: Facts and
Chesney, Goodwin and Fazel (2014). Risks of all-
Mental Health Commission of Canada, Making the Case for Investing in Mental Health in
Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) Policy on preventing discrimination based on
mental health disabilities and addictions, http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-
Smetanin et al. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada:
Action Plan: Include Psychotherapy in British Columbia Medical Services Plan
Write letters to the British Columbia premier, ministers of health and finance, and local members of legislature, urging the provincial government to invest in citizens by providing access to psychotherapy as part of the medical plan.
Encourage other provincial/territorial councils of the Catholic Women's League to determine the support for psychotherapy mental health services in their province/territory medical plan.
Educate members and the public on the need for including psychotherapy in the BC Medical Services Plan.
Continue to educate CWL members on Mental Health issues.