A vision for public mental health care


The time is now for public mental health care. Our current public health care system covers few mental health resources, and what is covered is often too little, too late. It doesn't have to be this way.

In this second part of a mental health panel series, the BC Health Coalition brings together key leaders in the area of mental health to explore a vision for public mental health care. We spotlight community based mental health programs that are paving the way for providing accessible and publicly funded mental health supports.

You won't want to miss our amazing panelists:

  • Arthur Paul, Indigenous Outpatient Counseling, Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC
  • Shobha Sharma, ED, Central Interior Native Health Society
  • Kendra Milne, ED, Health Justice
  • Jonny Morris, CEO, CMHA BC

Many have commented on the failures of our public health care system at caring for the mind, pointing out that our public coverage stops above the neck. In reality, public funding does exist for mental health care; however, it is disproportionately directed at downstream interventions, kicking in at crisis levels that are too often coercive. 

But increasingly, pools of public funding also exist for community based mental health programs that offer low-barrier or free mental health programming. Public funding has enabled community organizations to pave the way for mental health care that is upstream, responsive to local needs, accessible in community rather than medical institutions, and breaks out of colonial approaches to mental health care. 

Mental health is more than an individual level problem, so solutions cannot be limited to the individual level of care. Systemic issues like poverty, racism, colonialism (among many others) are involved. Community organizations across our province are leading solutions that account for the social determinants of health and rebuild community ties. Can we take their lead and learn from them?