The Wall: What is Happening to Prevent Mental Wellness

  • Posted on: 19 April 2016
  • By: adam

Establishing a Clubhouse International is our main goal; another is to educate our community to understand that it’s a tough road for someone struggling with a mental disorder. With a physical illness – it’s easy to explain – there is an outpouring of sympathy and understanding.  The wall goes up with mental illness and it’s time for the wall to come down.

What is keeping the wall up?

Misconceptions - many believe that mental illness is a behavioral issue and others think it is a developmental condition – it is neither.  These beliefs have helped form public policy on the treatment of mental disorders.

WHO (World Health Organization) in 2001 reports “We now know that large mental institutions no longer represent the best option for patients and families. Such institutions lead to a loss of social skills, excessive restriction, human rights violations, dependency and reduced opportunities for rehabilitation.  Countries should move towards setting up community care alternatives in a planned manner, ensuring that such alternatives are in place even as institutions are being phased out.”

Underfunding -  ‘Canadian investments in mental health represent mental health spending of $5.22 per capital in 2011 (compared to $187.51 invested in health care generally). This pales in comparison with the UK ($62.22), Australia (98.13) and New Zealand ($198.93).

Not treating mental health is expensive:

  • $5,577 for cost of average hospital stay

  • $1,500 cost per day for acute care bed (Globe and Mail Jan. 20/12)

  • $74,000 per person per year in the prison system

  • $50,000 per person is the cost for doing nothing (33% higher than providing housing and supports)

  • $600 million annually is the cost to the Greater Victoria Area for mental illness – this includes lost productivity

Being proactive with a Clubhouse International:

Competing  Demands – The Mayor’s Task Force Report (2007) reports that $3.6 million for 22 rehabilitation programs within Island Health’s budget.  MLU asked for the rehabilitation budget in 2014 and it was down to $1.3 million for 14 programs.  The funding has gone elsewhere - Where?  Why?

Criminalization of Mental Illness - Data from a large study of all individuals

In contact with BC’s provincial corrections system revealed that 56% of offenders had a diagnosed mental health and/or substance use disorder; specifically 26% had a mental disorder and 24% were dually diagnosed with both a mental health and substance use disorder.

A 2008 study found that 30% of all police calls involve individuals who suffer from mental health or substance use issues.

It is common now for a mental disorder to be “treated” as a criminal offence. Between 15 – 40% of people in prison have a mental illness (CMHA).

Stigma –  A European study explains that social perceptions of mental health problems are dominated by negative stereotypes. Stigma can also reduce the willingness of public policymakers to invest in mental health.  Stigma is characterized by a lack of knowledge about mental health, fear, prejudice and discrimination.

BC has the highest rates of hospital stays due to mental illness than the rest of Canada.  Why is this?  Are there adequate services in the community?  Where are they? Are they evidence based?

Lack of Urgency – Healthy Minds, Healthy People 2010: A ten year plan to address mental health and substance use in BC - explains that by 2012 there will be a provincial inter-ministerial framework to support implementation of psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) for people with severe mental health and substance use problems.  This framework remains in draft form and not acted upon.

From 2007 – 2013, Victoria had the highest per capita number of deaths of homeless people in BC (Times Colonist April 10, 2016). This report was also in the TC in 2014.

Poverty – WHO reports,  “The poor often bear the greater burden of mental disorders, both in terms of the risk in having a mental disorder and the lack of access to treatment.  Constant exposure to severely stressful events, dangerous living conditions, exploitation, and poor health in general all contribute to the greater vulnerability of the poor.  The lack of access to affordable treatment makes the course of illness more severe and debilitating, leading to a vicious circle of poverty and mental health disorders that is rarely broken”.

Silos (funding streams) – Moms Like Us has been told there is no money for a Clubhouse International.  How can this be?  This program is cost effective and is scientifically proven to save tax dollars.  Money that goes to acute care, policing, prisons, ambulance service etc. covers a wide span of jurisdictions.  How can this be changed?  How do we change the tide of isolation, despair, suicide, prison, homelessness and poverty into rebuilding lives?   Clubhouse International is not the sole answer but it would go a long way towards helping people suffering along with their families and the community.

Remove the Wall!

We as a community can remove the barriers that are preventing people from rehabilitation.  We urge you to join us and get loud and write to the Minister of Health and to the CEO of Island Health.  Write letters to the Editor and never stop talking and sharing,

Please visit and make a donation – any size – it will all help. 

This will prove the community commitment and will help us with projects such as developing a film.

They say it takes a community to raise a child.  Sometimes the child grows up and still needs some extra help – please join us – and let’s make this happen!

Sources of Information:

Who International Media Press Release

Toronto CHMA Executive Summary

BC Government : Healthy Minds 2010

Times Colonist - Homeless Deaths' Record

Europa - Stigma Paper

Vancouver Sun - Hospital Rates for Mental Health Hospital Stays

Canadian Mental Health Association - Budget Consultation

Pathways Clubhouse

Clubhouse International

Mayors' Task Force Executive Summary