Increasing Mental Health Awareness and Advocating for more Access to Services

As with other mental health and wellness organizations, the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) continually advocates for the removal of barriers to mental health services and programs by raising awareness on mental health issues, ensuring that mental health is on the agenda of governments and institutions, and encouraging public support. The overall aim is to improve policies, legislation, service delivery and public access. Mental health is health and nurturing and supporting good mental health should be as much a priority as physical health.

Barriers for Mental Health

According to the World Health Organization, even though much progress has been made in more developed countries, in most parts of the world, mental health and mental disorders are not regarded with the same importance as physical health. Systemic barriers that prevent a person from accessing help can be:

  • A lack of mental health services.
  • The unaffordable cost of mental health care through out-of-pocket payments. 
  • A lack of parity between mental health and physical health. 
  • The right to self-determination and need for information about treatments.
  • A need for services to facilitate active community participation.
  • Violations of human rights of persons with mental disorders.
  • Lack of housing and employment for people with mental disorders.
  • Stigma associated with mental disorders, resulting in exclusion.
  • The absence of promotion and prevention in schools, workplaces, and neighbourhoods.
  • Insufficient implementation of mental health policy, plans, programs, and legislation. 

BCACC’s Efforts

While BCACC does not purport to have the sphere of influence needed to impact changes for all the listed barriers to mental health, it is continually raising awareness on mental health issues and where possible proactively working to reduce or remove identified barriers.

  • Encouraging institutions to allocate more funds to the provision of mental health services.
  • Working with corporations to make more efficient use of their mental health budgets.
  • Participating in conferences to emphasize the importance of mental health.
  • Providing mental health referrals to 200,000 members of the public annually.
  • Protecting the public by ensuring that services are provided by fully qualified professionals.
  • Encouraging more professionals to enter the profession to ensure service provision.
  • Working to improve service to the underserved segments of the population, be it due to regional, language or cultural gaps. To that effect, BCACC has an annual award to improve access to the profession. Click here to learn more about the Joan Campbell Award.

An Invitation

BCACC wholeheartedly supports the efforts of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and agrees that it is time we as organizations and individuals publicly call for an end to mental health discrimination, ignorance, and funding gaps. Canadians must rally together to ensure mental health receives the same governmental priority as any other health issue.

1 in 5 Canadians experience mental health challenges in any given year. One of the biggest issues in our health care system – and society at large – is that mental health is not taken as seriously, and treated as urgently, as physical health. When you hear the stories and see the impact mental health issues have on the lives of so many around us, it is hard to stand idly by. Together, we can and must change the way mental health is treated not just in Canada, but around the world.

We invite you to voice your support of access to mental health support for all – your friends, family, community, or yourself. In doing so, we will actively destigmatize mental health and pave the way for lasting change.

Share your support on World Mental Health Day, which is October 10th each year, by sparking a conversation about mental health with your loved ones or on social media.

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