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Two mental health-related stories have hit the news recently that show a troubling trend in the way our mental healthcare system is working. A report released by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Scientists (ICES) showed that due to two major demographic changes in the past decade, demand for psychiatrists has outpaced supply by 17 per cent. On the other hand, mental health advocates have called for more funding for mental healthcare, as our nation now lags behind other OECD countries in that field. Canada is in for a big shift in mental health treatment, and we must be ready for radical change in order to positively impact our citizens.

The study released by CAMH and ICES focused on the demand for psychiatrists in Canada, and showed that there were two major demographic shifts that will require reform. One is that many rural psychiatrists are nearing retirement, and fewer younger ones are moving out of the city core. In Toronto’s Location Health Integration Network (LHIN), there are 61 psychiatrists for every 100,000 people. In rural areas that number might go down to just 4 psychiatrists per 100,000 people. The other shift showed that while there has been an increase in women in the field, female psychiatrists often saw fewer patients than their male counterparts. The study focused on the supply of Ontario psychiatrists and trends in practicing over time.

“What we do not have in the mental health system is a “system”—a way to ensure that the resources that exist in the province to provide mental health and addictions care to Ontarians goes to those with the greatest need,” said Dr. Paul Kurdyak, lead author on the study and psychiatrist and scientist with CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, and lead scientist for the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) Mental Health and Addictions Research Program. “Psychiatrists are one aspect of these resources, and need to be better integrated into the broader system so that the relatively few specialist psychiatrists are available to a larger number of patients who require specialist services.”

psychiatrist is a licensed physician with extensive medical training that gives them more of an insight into the relationship between the physical, social, and psychological aspects of mental illnesses. There are also psychologists, who differ in that they focus more on how people think, feel and behave, rather than specifically on physiological aspects that lead to mental health issues. Social workers are other mental health professionals who work through systems of care to better give individual and family-based therapies.

Bev Gutray, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) British Columbia, referred to the need for better use of the stepped care model for patients accessing care.

“When we’re talking about the utilization of the most highly-trained professionals like psychiatrists, access to them is extremely limited,” Gutray said. “If you want to see a psychiatrist you will be waiting a long time. We’ve got to keep that resource serving people with the most complex and highest needs.”

Read the full article HERE

What is CMHA York South Simcoe doing about it?

We have supports and tools available to help expedite timing between client referrals and receiving Psychiatric care.  Bounce Back is now available by self-referral and is designed to help adults overcome low mood, depression and anxiety.  The program offers individual coaching, workbooks, a DVD and is a self-paced program for each individuals needs.

MOBYSS, our youth mobile health unit, is also helping alleviate this crisis by providing mobile health services to youth which allows greater accessibility for those in need of care.  Youth can receive mental health services and speak with peer support workers for support.  Learn more at

Check out our other programs and services HERE or contact our branch for additional resources at 1-866-345-0183. We are here to help.