What if we waited until stage 4 to treat cancer?
We’d never allow our system of care to treat cancer the way we treat mental illness and addiction. We should be educating, screening and taking action early. Yet people are often left waiting for care. Some are too ashamed to even ask for help. The standard of treatment should be equal between mental and physical health conditions.
The b4stage4 campaign is dedicated to creating this equitable system of care. We believe a focus on prevention, early identification and early intervention can significantly improve the lives of those living with a mental health or substance use problem. Here are some steps we think we need to take:
First, mental health and addiction should be treated equal to physical health. This change will be reflected in the attitudes people hold and the services provided by our healthcare system. Someone who seeks help for depression should receive the same compassionate care as someone who walks into the emergency room with a broken arm.
Second, investment needs to be made in community-based programs. We know that addressing mental health symptoms early by providing access to services and supports in community can significantly reduce the severity of an illness – these types of interventions may very well keep people out of hospital – but this level of care cannot be provided without dedicated funding. There needs to be recognition that these cost-effective supports are a solution to an overburdened healthcare system and an alternative to an acute care model that only responds in situations of crisis.
Third, there needs to be leadership within our provincial government that values these principles and advocates for change. What if every political party made a commitment to increase funding for mental illness and addiction prevention and early intervention programs? Imagine the possibilities…
How might we accomplish all this? Join the b4stage4 campaign! We’re hoping to engage 1% of British Columbians in calling for an equitable system of care. We even laid out a detailed manifesto to help us achieve our goals – but each and every one of those goals depends on citizens like you taking action.
There are so many ways you can get involved. Sign our manifesto! Send a letter to your MLA! Tweet the hashtag #b4stage4! Together we can make our voices heard. Together we can bring about better mental health in British Columbia.
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