Psychologists are Canada’s largest group of regulated, specialized mental health care providers. However their services are not funded by provincial and territorial health insurance plans. In the private sector, Canadians either pay out of pocket for psychological service or rely on the private health insurance plans provided by their employers. The coverage provided through private plans is almost always too little for a clinically meaningful amount of psychological service.
Needs for mental health services in Canada are considerable. One in Five Canadians will experience a mental health problem in a given year; the most common of which are depression and anxiety. The fastest growing category of disability costs is depression. The annual cost of mental illness to the Canadian economy is 51 billion dollars while the impact on productivity in workplace is estimated at tens of billions of dollars annually.
Canada has fallen behind other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, and Finland who have launched mental health initiatives that include covering the services of psychologists through public health systems. These initiatives are proving both cost and clinically effective. Analysis of research in the United Kingdom found that substantial returns on investments could be achieved in the early detection and treatment of common mental health conditions such as depression. While providing effective care, these costs are often offset by decreased costs to individuals, families, service systems, workplaces and economies when people have ready access to needed and effective psychological care.