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 educate, screen and take action early. People are not left waiting for care because we understand what could happen if treatment isn't accessible and available. The situation is not the same for mental health and addictions. Many people are left waiting. 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 type of accessible, low-barrier 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, leadership in the provincial government must act on these principles. The 2017 BC Election marked a significant change in our political landscape. All of the major political parties - Liberals, NDP, Greens - made substantial commitments for further investment and policy changes in support of better mental health and addiction care. The voting results then managed to bring each of these party commitments together for a co-operative minority government.
How might we continue to foment this tide of change? Join the b4stage4 campaign! Our goal is to engage 1% of British Columbians - that's about 44,000 people - in calling for an equitable system of care. We even laid out a detailed declaration 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. Together we can bring about better mental health in British Columbia.
Click here for a printable (8.5 x 11) b4stage4 poster.
Click here for printable signature-collection pages.
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