June 25 2013

The Caledon Institute of Social Policy was commissioned by the Graham Boeckh Foundation to prepare a scan of mental health strategies currently in place in or development across Canada with a particular focus on the youth and adolescent demographic. The Knowledge Exchange for Mental Health identifies major themes traversing provincial strategies and highlights policy priorities, target populations, actual and proposed policy changes and major program investments in the youth and adolescent space. Caledon’s report analyzes major trends and explores policy strengths and gaps. The report also speaks to the issue of economic payback in identified priority areas.

The majority of jurisdictions in Canada have introduced formal mental health strategies. While each province and territory states its objectives in unique ways, these can be summarized as several distinct, but related, goals. They all seek to enhance the mental health of the overall population, intervene early for people considered to be at risk of mental health problems, improve the quality and quantity of mental health treatment services, and ensure the availability of adequate community supports.

Despite the unique approaches, the report explores the challenges that are common to all provinces and territories. These challenges are discussed within the context of three main clusters related to responsiveness, resources, and governance and accountability.

The paper argues that within each challenge area, there is a wide range of opportunities for the exchange of knowledge. Such exchange would help improve the quality of service, raise the bar of provision throughout the country by building on good practice and make better use of scarce resources.

The report concludes with a summary of major considerations for the future. These include treatment advances such as client-centered care and individualized funding; the use of technology such as tele-health records and tele-services for remote areas; and research innovations that affect both mental health treatment and accountability.

Caledon Institute of Social Policy