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If someone in Ontario has a fall and breaks their arm, they can go to the hospital and get free medical coverage to help them heal that injury. If someone in Ontario catches a nasty infection, our public healthcare system will step up to help make sure that person is able to get the care they need to overcome that illness. But if that same person is suffering from depression and needs therapy to get better, the most likely scenario is that they will not have this care covered by our public healthcare system.
To be fair, there are some edge cases — if your family doctor happens to have medical training in psychotherapy, or your family doctor is connected to a Family Health Team that includes mental health services, those services will be covered by OHIP. But most Ontarians are not served by Family Health Teams, and even those who do have Family Health Teams in their area won’t always have the right mental health professionals available to them.
To make matters worse, even if you are lucky enough to have a decent Family Health Team in your area that can provide mental health services, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to become a patient! More and more, we’re seeing people having to wait YEARS to have access to a family doctor in Ontario, with some even waiting up to 10 years before having access to a family doctor.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly aggravated the mental health problems facing Canadians, we’ve been struggling with the problem for much longer. Even in 2018, 78.2% of Canadians did not know where they could get mental health supports, or they were unable to afford the help that was available.
We’ve come a long way as a society in terms of talking about mental health. It’s good that more people are able to admit when they have a problem. Now we have to make sure that those who do want help are able to get it!