Mental health is a Yukon issue

Mental health is a Yukon issue Open letter to party leaders in the Yukon: Health Canada tells us that 20 per cent of all Canadians, regardless of their race, sex, education or income level, will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

Open letter to party leaders in the Yukon:

Health Canada tells us that 20 per cent of all Canadians, regardless of their race, sex, education or income level, will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

The hardest hit group of Canadians who will deal with mental illness are the poor.

Furthermore, persons with a serious diagnosed mental illness have a 70 to 90 per cent unemployment rate and are considered some of Canada’s “hardest to house” individuals (Canadian Institute of Health Information 2010). For these reasons, the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition identified services for those with mental health conditions as an area for the coalition’s attention last fall.

We held public meetings in November 2010 and January 2011 where we heard from more than 60 Yukon residents about the successes and gaps in services evident in the Yukon.

As a result of those meetings, the coalition has struck a Mental Health Committee whose mandate is to improve the lives of people with mental health issues in the Yukon by fostering collaboration, building understanding and awareness, and advocating for positive change.

Here are some of the priority issues that we believe require political attention and leadership:

• Supported housing for people with mental health issues,

• A full range of adequate and culturally relevant services including addictions and transitional planning,

• Increased public understanding of mental health issues and services,

• Development of a comprehensive mental health plan similar to the BC Mental Health plan, which would include:

a) an inventory and analysis of existing services throughout the Yukon,

b) prompt access to appropriate services,

c) improved collaboration among service providers, and

Â¥ More comprehensive and appropriate training and support for front line staff working with people who have mental health issues.

We hope you will discuss these issues with Yukon residents as you travel the territory this summer. We also look forward to hearing how your party will support the above priorities. If you would like to learn more about our work, please don’t hesitate to call.

Patricia McGarr, Sue Edelman

Co-chairs, Mental Health Committee