Ontario Psychiatric Association finds patients are unable to get the services they need due to high demand

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Due to a combination of a growing demand for services, a lack of available resources, and a finite number of psychiatrists, people struggling with mental illness are unable to get the treatment they need.

“There simply aren’t enough of us to provide that level of support,” Javeed Sukhera, president of the Ontario Psychiatric Association (OPA), said in a news release.

According to the latest numbers from Health Quality Ontario, timely assessments and follow-up care rates among people in need of treatment for mental illness are getting worse.

“When people have serious and complex mental illnesses in Ontario, they can encounter services that are fragmented and restrictive. Mental health is not funded in the same way other services are and, as a result, there are complicated inclusion and exclusion criteria,” Said Sukhera.

Immigrants, refugees, ethno-cultural and racialized groups, Indigenous Peoples, individuals living in northern and remote communities, minority official language communities and LGBTQ2+ individuals have an even greater struggle getting the mental health services they require.

Sukhera believes the system could be improved through broader calls to action such as increased investments in a health human resource strategy to address service shortages, rather than simply realigning existing resources.

“As psychiatrists, we are important contributors to the delivery and organization of mental health and addictions services in Ontario,” says Dr. Sukhera. “This is a system in crisis and as an organization, the Ontario Psychiatric Association is pushing the envelope for change,” he added.

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