Living Well in Health and with Illness: Brief to Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology – Canada’s 2004 10-Year plan to Strengthen Health Care in Canada

The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) thanks the Standing Committee for its invitation to join in its review and discussions of Canada’s health needs, services and supports. The CPA is Canada’s largest national professional association of psychologists dedicated to the science, practice and education of psychology in the service of our membership and the public good. There are approximately 18,000 regulated practitioners of psychology in Canada making psychologists the country’s largest group of regulated, specialized mental health care providers.

In this brief, we offer our perspective on the implementation of the 2004 Accord. We further focus on the role of psychological factors in health and well-being, the impact of psychological factors on illness, and the costs and needs related to Canada’s mental health.

CPA’s Recommendations to the Standing Committee for Canada’s Health

#1: CPA joins other partners and stakeholders in urging the Federal government to target transfers to the provinces and territories for mental health and that the funds spent on mental health, mental disorders and addictions are proportionate to the burden of illness in Canada. We need to join in the recognition among other countries that “there is no health without mental health”.

#2: Health promotion and illness prevention need be delivered in communities and its efforts should be upstream with a focus on children and youth

#3: Intervention when necessary for mental health and illness should be collaborative and integrated across public and private sectors. Collaboration will require the commitment of all stakeholders – inclusive of the governments, employers and insurers that fund services and supports; the institutions and agencies that deliver it; the health care professionals who provide it; and most importantly those of us who receive it. Successful collaborative practice calls on health care professionals to practice differently but also calls for the changes in principle, policy and procedure, and funding upon which collaborative practice will also depend.

#4: We need more research into:

a) the biological, psychological and social determinants of health and illness

b) the biological, psychological and social interventions that best help people live well in health and with mental and physical illness.

#5: We are calling on government and other funders to improve access to effective psychological services for mental health problems and disorders. Services and supports delivered by psychologists may be in the form of program development and evaluation, assessment and diagnosis, treatment and/or supervision of other personnel charged with treatment and service delivery.