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COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Some help to figure out your mental health options

By Tim Gordon, special to the News

Mental health issues have been gaining widespread attention in Canada. You will find mental health mentioned in the news, conversations on talk shows, plot lines in sitcoms and movies.
Even large corporations are getting behind the mental health cause with advertisements and grant funding like Bell’s “Let’s Talk Mental Health.”
When you look at information from Statistics Canada, it’s clear that we should be talking about mental health. In 2012, approximately 4.9 million Canadians expressed having a need for mental health care.
Only two-thirds of them had their needs met. Counselling or psychotherapy was reported as the most needed by Canadians and yet it was the need that was not met. Canadians wanted counselling but largely were unable to get it.
Medication was asked for less frequently by Canadians, yet it was provided easily. Medication was also the most likely treatment to be provided for mental health. The majority of Canadians reported that the reason they did not access counselling or psychotherapy was because they were too busy. One of five said it was because counselling or psychotherapy was unavailable to them.
In Ontario, these services are not covered by OHIP and therefore, many Canadians may find themselves paying for therapy services themselves. There is also a large body of research statistics showing that individuals greatly prefer psychotherapy over medication as a treatment for their mental health.
Medications have potential side effects and should only be considered if the individual does not want psychotherapy or if the therapy does not work well. Current scientific literature shows us that psychotherapy is as effective as medications in reducing the symptoms of disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Not only does the research say psychotherapy is as effective as medication, therapy can also benefit over medication in preventing relapses, improving family and job outcomes.
The reality of mental illness is that it appears to be chronic, it simply will not go away. Psychotherapy could be a good investment in one’s own mental health, but it could also make sense for OHIP to cover services, even a limited number of 20 therapy sessions.
Considering the need for mental health services in Canada, Mood Menders Support Services in Hamilton is offering a place for those who wish to receive support through free support group meetings, free educational workshops and free group psychotherapy. For more information, call 905-521-0090 ext. 234 or email moodmenders@hotmail.com.
Tim Gordon the director of clinical services for Mood Menders Support Services. If you would like to write in this space, call editor Gord Bowes at 905-664-8800 ext. 335.

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