Ontario Invests $2.1 Billion Over 4 Years for Mental Health Services

On March 21, 2018, Premier Wynne announced her government’s commitment to invest $2.1 billion over 4 years to support and enrich mental health services and the province’s mental health system to meet the needs of Ontarians.  The investment will make it easier to access services through a local school, family doctor's office or community-based organization. This will include;

  • In 2018-19, more than 12,000 more young people will be able to access community-based services such as therapy and counselling, a number that will grow to about 46,000 by 2021-22

  • Every secondary school in Ontario will have access to an additional mental health worker, with about 400 new positions being added within two years

  • The province will create at least 15 additional youth wellness hubs over four years to improve access to services, fill critical service gaps for youth aged 12 to 25 and improve transitions to adult services

  • Up to 350,000 more people with mild to moderate anxiety or depression across the province will have access to publicly funded structured psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioural therapy, closer to home in settings like their doctor's offices or a community organization

  • The province will create 2,475 more supportive housing units over four years for those who require care in safe, affordable and appropriate housing

  • Access to withdrawal management and residential and community treatment services for young people and adults living with addictions in Ontario will be expanded, including services in every community and support for more programs and services that are culturally appropriate

  • The province will invest an additional $570 million over the next four years so that young people can access the supports they need.

  • Development of a 24/7 Helpline to enable people to quickly get a mental health and addictions screening, crisis counselling and referral services through whichever method they choose -- online, by text or on the phone.

  • Ontario will also invest in more services to help people avoid incarceration or becoming a repeat offender, including integrated programs for shelter-hostel outreach and funding for Mobile Crisis Rapid Response, which offer safe beds for people in crisis and teams with a police officer and mental health worker who respond together to calls involving mental health crises.
  • Appointment of a Special Advisor to provide recommendations on a proposed structure for a governance model for Ontario’s improved mental health and addictions system.

View more detail about investments to support every stage of life here

Recommendations of Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Council
Many of the funded initiatives stem from recommendations of the   Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Council  which was created in 2014 for a 3 year term to advise the Minister on implementation of the province’s comprehensive mental health and addictions strategy.  The Council's 2017 and final report – Realizing the Vision:  Better Mental Health Means Better Health – was recently released. 

Implications for Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists are mental health professionals who bring a unique perspective to their work on interprofessional teams working with individuals across the lifespan and across all sectors of our public (and private) health care system.  OTs are encouraged to watch for and monitor communications regarding announced funding initiatives that may impact their organizations, the regional mental health community, the LHIN, etc. so that an informed OT voice can contribute to organizational or regional planning.  We encourage OTs to monitor:

  • Local Health Integration Networks – funding for most adult mental health services will be transferred through LHINs.  Get to your LHIN’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy (search their website)

  • Publicly funded Children and Youth Mental Health Centres - providing treatment and support to children, youth and families. This includes targeted prevention, early intervention, short- and long-term counselling and therapy, addictions services, and intensive services such as residential care.  Visit Children’s Mental Health Ontario for more information about these organizations.. Children’s Mental Health Centres are funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

  • Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario – provides community based services for adults and children .  See Children and Youth services and provincial programs.

  • OSOT Mental Health Teams – OSOT has 4 mental health focused Teams – Adult Mental Health, Children and Youth Mental Health, Psychotherapy and Workplace Mental Health.  Consider linking with a Team as we work forward to position OT in the new mental health landscape in Ontario!  View Team webpage.  Help us understand how OTs are currently working in Ontario's mental health system AND share your visions for how OTs can participate in solutions funded by these new announcements in the future!  Contact the Society anytime at osot@osot.on.ca