The Government of Canada is committed to promoting positive mental health for everyone, particularly those who face disproportionate challenges because of discrimination, socio-economic status or social exclusion.
Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, accompanied by the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, announced nearly $4 million to the Alliance for Healthier Communities for the expansion of their project, Social Prescribing for Better Mental Health across Ontario. This initiative aims to promote positive mental health and prevent mental illness by “socially prescribing” people a variety of non-clinical social programs, such as an exercise group, arts drop-in, or volunteering at a community garden.
As part of this project, training and resources are being provided to up to 28 Ontario-based, Community Health Centres, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics, Indigenous Primary Health Care Organizations and community Family Health Teams to support the implementation of social prescribing and enhance community-based mental health promotion programs. The project is also supporting Ontario 211 in enhancing its capacity to offer social prescribing for individuals accessing its services. The project expects to reach at least 500 health providers and 5,000 to 7,500 individuals, including Black, Indigenous and other racialized people, people who live in homeless shelters and other group settings, isolated seniors, and individuals and families with lower incomes who are under-housed.
Today’s investment builds on the historic announcement the Government of Canada made in February of $198.6 billion over 10 years to improve health care services for Canadians, reduce surgical backlogs, support health workers, and improve integrated mental health and substance use services. We will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure that all Canadians have the mental health and substance use supports they need to maintain their well-being now, and into the future.
“Social prescribing is about listening deeply, providing necessary supports, and empowering people to be co-creators in improving their own mental health and wellbeing, all while becoming more connected to their communities. As we work with provinces and territories to enhance our universal health care system and improve access to mental health and substance use supports, this funding will help enhance our capacity to improve mental health outcomes in communities across Ontario, particularly for populations that face barriers.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
“Mental health challenges have affected many Canadians these past few years. That’s why I’m proud to be a part of today’s funding announcement for the Alliance for Healthier Communities, which will provide direct support to people in Eglington-Lawrence who’ve been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our government is committed to improving mental health services and offering care programs to those who need it.”
The Honourable Marco Mendicino
Minister of Public Safety
“The federal government’s funding and support of the Social Prescribing for Better Mental Health project will allow community health organizations to continue their work supporting people whose mental health is most impacted by the pandemic. We know from our research that by supporting people to create social connections through social prescribing, we can help people improve their mental health and reduce the workload on primary care providers so they can see more patients. Positive impacts of social prescribing go well beyond each person’s individual health and wellbeing, for entire communities and the healthcare system at a wider level.”
Sarah Hobbs, CEO
Alliance for Healthier Communities
This announcement is part of a $100 million investment provided in Budget 2021 to support projects that promote mental health and prevent mental illness in populations disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include youth, seniors, First Nations, Inuit and Métis, Black and other racialized people in Canada, frontline and other essential workers, and others whose mental health has been - and continues to be - especially impacted by the pandemic.
Mental health promotion and mental illness prevention are critical components for wellbeing and can help reduce demands on the health care system. Community-based projects focussed on mental health promotion have the potential to improve health outcomes over the life course.
On February 7, 2023, The Government of Canada announced that it intends to work collaboratively with provinces and territories on shared health priorities to improve integrated health care for Canadians, including improved access to quality mental health and substance use services.
Renison University College, at the University of Waterloo, is hosting a Knowledge Development and Exchange Hub (KDE Hub) for Mental Health Promotion to support the projects funded through this investment helping to build a community with shared interests in optimizing mental health promotion and mental illness prevention across Canada.
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. 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).
Kids Help Phone is also available 24/7 with e-mental health service offering free, confidential support to young people in English and French.