Government of Canada invests in mental health and distress centres

News release

Distress centres are experiencing a surge in demand with the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health

April 25, 2022 | Toronto, Ontario | Public Health Agency of Canada

Distress centres are life-saving resources in our communities which have seen a surge in demand for their crisis services since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced an investment of $3,775,000, with $2 million going towards the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and $1,775,000 going towards 13 distress centres in Canada. These centres operate across the country, including in rural and remote areas providing vital mental health support and resources to those in need including 24 hour crisis support, professional counselling, peer support and referrals.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will support the development of resources to assist distress centres in meeting the diverse needs of key populations, including:

  • older adults
  • youth
  • parents
  • LGBTQ2+ populations
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis people
  • first responders
  • healthcare providers
  • racially and linguistically diverse groups
  • people with disabilities

This funding is part of a $50 million investment first announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement to support distress centres across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All people in Canada, including those living in rural and remote areas and especially people with existing health inequalities, need access to critical health and mental health resources and services. As we work with provinces and territories on expanding virtual services, we are making sure that people in Canada can use emergency supports when they need them.

The federal government is committed to supporting people in Canada and their mental health and wellbeing through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can access the Wellness Together Canada portal, or call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741 (adults) or 686868 (youth).

Quotes

"The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted Canadians' and for many, this has affected their mental and physical health, relationships, employment and other aspects of life. The distress centres being invested in today offer very important assistance across the country, connecting people to appropriate supports and resources that will have substantial benefits and will help those in crisis. We want people to know, if they need help, that they are not alone and that there is support available to them."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health

"Everyone should be able to access appropriate support in times of crisis. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for funding this important initiative, which will help empower distress centres and helplines across Canada to better support people from diverse backgrounds and communities. In doing so, we can improve access to crisis support people need at the time they need it most, throughout the pandemic and beyond. CAMH is proud to partner with Crisis Services Canada and the Canadian Mental Health Association National on this important project."

Tracey MacArthur
CAMH President & CEO

Quick facts

  • One in three Canadians will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime.
  • Suicide impacts people of all ages and backgrounds in Canada. Every day, an average of 12 Canadians die by suicide. For every person lost to suicide, many more experience thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.
  • Distress centres provide vital mental health support and resources to those in need including 24 hour crisis support, professional counselling, peer support and referrals. More information on the projects announced today can be found here.
  • This funding announcement is part of a mental health investment through the Fall 2020 Economic Statement, which provided $93 million in overall funding to support mental health related initiatives.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada is continuing to work with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and other partners to implement and sustain an expanded pan-Canadian suicide prevention service. This service does not replace existing crisis lines and services. Rather, it will collaborate with distress centres across Canada to support improved access to services. This partnership is also curating resources to assist distress centres across Canada in meeting the diverse needs of key populations during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Wellness Together Canada portal provides free access to educational content, self-guided therapy, moderated peer-to-peer support, and one-to-one counselling with qualified health professionals to support with mental health and substance use.

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Associated links

Contacts

Maja Staka
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, Carolyn Bennett
343-552-5568

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Public enquiries:

613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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