Mr. Speaker, this is mental health awareness week and today is National Child and Youth Mental Health Day.
Approximately 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness and 70% of adults with mental health problems said that they noticed symptoms before the age of 18. However, fear and stigma is a big deterrent to seeking treatment.
One in five Canadians is impacted by mental illness, yet our primary health care system falls far short of helping those with mental health problems get appropriate care. Indeed, mental illness is often undiagnosed and untreated until major symptoms appear and the patient is in dire need.
The federal government is the fifth largest health care provider, but given the high rate of Inuit and aboriginal suicide, it is unconscionable that these programs have been cut when they should be augmented.
Early diagnosis of mental illness is critical. Early treatment and support programs are essential. Therefore, a comprehensive integrated national mental health strategy must be a core part of a responsive health care system.