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The Catholic Women’s League of Canada BC & Yukon Provincial Council

Education and Health

BC and Yukon Provincial Council

2017.02   Include Psychotherapy in British Columbia Medical Services Plan

Whereas,       psychotherapy is not included in the British Columbia Medical Services

        Plan; and

Whereas,       one in five Canadians experience a mental health issue and;

Whereas,       ninety percent of people who complete suicide had a diagnosed mental                               illness and;


Whereas,       Canadians in the lowest income group are 3 to 4 times more likely than those in the

    highest income group to report poor to fair mental health; therefore be it

Resolved,       that the BC and Yukon Provincial Council urge  the  provincial  government  to

     include psychotherapy in the British Columbia Medical Services Plan;

  Brief: Include Psychotherapy in British Colombia Medical Services Plan

Many British Columbians experience a need for mental health care, yet all too often these needs are not met  through  provincial  health  services.  Listed  under  Services  Not  Covered  by  MSP in  the British Columbia  Medical  Services  Plan  (MSP)   are  the  services  of  counsellors  or   psychologists.   (BC) Psychologists  use  the  treatment  of psychotherapy,  which  is  the  “treatment  of  mental or emotional illness by talking about problems rather than by using medicine or drugs.” (Merriam-Webster) Statistics show that psychotherapy is desperately needed for a vast number of people.

It  is  estimated that  “1  in  5  Canadians  are  affected  annually  by mood  disorders, anxiety disorders,

schizophrenia, (attention deficit/hyperactive disorders) ADHD, conduct disorders, (oppositional defiant disorders) ODD, substance use disorders or dementia. Not only does mental illness impact  individuals but it also places a significant impact on families, communities and the health care system.” (Smetanin) The  Centre  for Addiction and  Mental Health states  that,  “70%  of mental health problems  have their onset  during  adolescence,” And  that  “People with mental illness and addictions are more likely to die prematurely than the  general population.”  (CAMH)  “Mental  illness  can cut  10 to  20 years   from  a person’s life expectancy.” (Chesney) In 2012 almost 4,000 people in Canada died from suicide; this number had remained at a consistent rate for the previous five years. (Canada)

The  Canadian Mental Health Association states that,  “Studies  indicate  that  more than 90  percent of suicide victims have a diagnosable psychiatric illness, and suicide is the most common cause of death for people with schizophrenia. Both major depression and bipolar disorder account for 15 to 25 percent of all deaths by suicide  in  patients with severe mood  disorders.” (CMHA)  “People  living  with long term  health  problems  like  cancer,  AIDS,  heart  disease  or   Alzheimer  disease  are  more  likely  to experience depression.” (CMHA) Not being able to afford help for their mental illness creates an even greater  hardship,  increasing  the  risk  of suicide.  Mental illnesses  are treatable  and  suicides  can be prevented.

Often people who require psychotherapy are not receiving it because it is not a service provided in the MSP. As a result,  these people experience discrimination  in society.  (OHRC)  “Canadians  in the  lowest income group are 3 to 4 times  more  likely than those  in the highest  income  group to  report  poor to  fair mental health...Individuals with a mental illness are  much less  likely to be employed.  Unemployment  rates are as high as 70% to 90% for people with the most severe mental illnesses.” (CAMH) This results in a downward spiral  for  their  quality of life,  as often individuals  cannot  afford  counselling.    Mental  illness  costs the Canadian economy about fifty billion dollars per year, which represents 2.8% of Canada’s 2011 GDP. If the number of people experiencing a mental illness could be reduced in a given year by 10%, after 10 years the economy would be saving at least $4 billion a year. (MHCC) On a smaller scale BC could realize these financial savings by including psychotherapy in the MSP.

Healthcare  can be  improved  within British Columbia.  Suicide  is  prevalent  right  across our country. With psychotherapy included in the Medical Services Plan, there could be a substantial decrease in the number of suicides completed each year. Without having psychotherapy as part of the MSP services covered, many people with mental disorders are not getting the assistance they need. Psychotherapy needs to be included as part of the Medical Services Plan in BC.

Works Cited:  Include Psychotherapy in British Columbia Medical Services Plan

British Columbia, Government of, Medical Health Services Plan (MSP), Services Not Covered

by MSP, http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/msp/bc-residents/benefits/services-not-covered-by-msp

Canada, Government of, Statistics Canada, Leading causes of death, total population, by age group and sex, Canada http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&id=1020561

Canadian Mental Health Association, Toronto, Suicide Statistics, Canada and Ontario,

http://toronto.cmha.ca/mental_health/suicide statistics/

Canadian Mental Health Association, Victoria Office (BC Division) Get Informed,


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addictions: Facts and


Chesney, Goodwin and Fazel (2014). Risks of all-cause and suicide mortality in mental disorders:

a meta-review. World Psychiatry, 13: 153-60 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24890068

Mental Health Commission of Canada, Making the Case for Investing in Mental Health in

Canada,http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/sites/default/files/2016 06/Investing_in_Mental_Health_FINAL_Version_ENG.pdf

Merriam-Webster, Definition of Psychotherapy


Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) Policy on preventing discrimination based on

mental health disabilities and addictions, http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-based-mental-health-disabilities-and-addictions

Smetanin et al. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada:

2011-2041. Prepared for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Toronto: Risk Analytical


Action Plan:  Include Psychotherapy in British Columbia Medical Services Plan

Write letters to the British Columbia premier, ministers of health and finance, and local members of legislature, urging the provincial government to invest in citizens by providing access to psychotherapy as part of the medical plan.

Encourage  other  provincial/territorial councils  of the  Catholic Women's  League  to determine the support for psychotherapy mental health services in their province/territory medical plan.

Educate  members  and  the public  on the  need  for  including  psychotherapy  in  the  BC Medical Services Plan.

Continue to educate CWL members on Mental Health issues.

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