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January 29, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Toronto Star in response to the article, "New ‘medical psychiatry alliance’ targets gap in health care," published Jan 28, 2014

deb_matthews_jpg_size_xxlarge_letterboxThe Ontario government is to be commended for launching this initiative to improve links between mental health and primary care. People with serious mental illness die 25-30 years prematurely due to poor physical health and poor access to primary care. It will be important to build capacity in community mental health agencies by providing increased funding for nurse practitioners and physicians as well as health promotion. While hospital leadership is critical, increasing community capacity is also essential if we are to lower premature deaths from chronic disease.

To read the article Click Here


January 29, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Toronto Star in response to the article, "Modest proposal, big dividends," published Jan 28, 2014

thestar_logoSousa in tough spot over funding choices, Opinion Jan. 24

It is surprising that investing in housing and reducing homelessness wasn’t identified as an area for attention. There are 40,000 people living with mental illness in Ontario who are homeless and a further 171,000 who are vulnerably housed. The wait list for supportive housing in Toronto is 7,000, up from 700 four years ago.

A modest proposal to provide 3,500 rent supplements annually would cost $27 million, a fraction of the $49 billion we spend on health care. And it would reduce hospital and shelter costs, while improving quality of life.

The proportion of health spending allocated to mental health has declined from 11.3 per cent in 1979 to 7 per cent now. The finance minister should table 10-year plan to increase mental health spending as recommended by the Mental Health Commission. We need to fix this deficit in health and social care.

January 13, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Globe and Mail in response to the article, "Executives, soldiers to ski to North Pole for veterans cause," published January 10, 2014

polarWhile it is gratifying to see the corporate sector step up to fill gaps in mental health care, it is important to note that corporate and private sector support cannot and should not absolve governments of their responsibilities to provide medical and community care for Canadians living with mental illness. According to the World Health Organization, Canada lags behind other high income countries when it comes to mental health spending as a share of health spending. The public should support corporate philanthropy for mental health, but we should remind governments that the deficit in mental health care is their responsibility to fix.

To read the article Click Here

January 2, 2014 Steve Lurie's letter to the Toronto Star in response to the article, "Ashley Smith inquest: Death a homicide, jury rules," published Dec 22, 2013

thestar_logoThe inquest jury’s recommendations, if implemented, will ensure that people with serious mental health problems in the federal correctional service are able to receive more clinically appropriate interventions. This will reduce the suffering and avoidable deaths that have been documented by the Correctional Services Investigator and that have continued to occur since Ashley’s death. However the recommendations do not deal with the treatment gaps in the community that led to her incarceration. Mental health spending has been declining as a share of health care spending for over thirty years, and only one in three adults and one in six children with serious mental health problems are able to access appropriate prevention and treatment services in the community. Until we address this deficit, Ashley Smith’s death will be the canary in the coal mine that we continue to ignore.

To read the Toronto Star article Click Here

October 29, 2013 CMHA Toronto Branch 2012-2013 Annual Report

To read our 2012-2013 Annual Report Click Here

September 23, 2013 Steve Lurie's letter to the Globe and Mail in response to the article, "One in six Canadians said they required mental-health care in last year: Statscan," published Sept 18, 2013

GMPerhaps the most telling statistic in the report was the fact that 69% of people without mental health problems rated their health as excellent compared to 29.6% with a mental health or substance abuse disorder. This shows the impact of mental illness and substance abuse on personal health. The Mental Health Commission estimates that mental illness costs the Canadian economy $51 billion per year and these costs will rise into the trillions unless we improve our mental health systems. Given that 12.5 million Canadians will live with mental health or substance abuse disorders during their lifetimes, we need to recognize that there is no health without mental health!

To read the article Click Here

August 30, 2013 Toronto Star article, published Aug 30, 2013 "Police make lousy mental health workers, but there are alternatives"

Click Here to read the Toronto Star article where Steve Lurie is quoted on the need for investment in frontline mental health services.

August 30, 2013 Steve Lurie's letter to the Globe and Mail in response to the article, "Police need the weapon of good judgement, not more tasers," published Aug 27, 2013

ed-taser-ontario-0827Yesterday’s announcement about tasers may save lives, but it was a missed opportunity. The government could have said it was providing more funding for mobile police crisis intervention teams and signaled that their upcoming refresh of their 10 year mental health and addictions strategy will include adequate funding to ensure that the police are no longer the default 24/7 mental health crisis response in communities across the province.

To read the article Click Here


August 30, 2013 TEDxToronto


Mark Henick, Case Manager at CMHA Toronto, spoke at the TEDxToronto Conference on Thursday, September 26th. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, and provides a platform for exceptional ideas and a catalyst for profound change.

Mark, a mental health advocate, spoke candidly about his experience living with mental health issues and his struggles with suicide. His talk explored the complicated nature of choice in suicide and how our choices are affected by perspective and our mental health. Click on the link below to see Mark’s presentation on “Why We Choose Suicide.”

The Conference theme was “The Choices We Make.” Our choices may be logical, based on moral principle, made by gut instinct, or determined by the heart. They can be singular actions or collaborative ones. In the event of too much choice, we can face confusion and indifference. We are who we are today because of the choices we have made in the days that precede it.

Mark has authored commentaries on issues relating to mental health for major newspapers across Canada and the U.S. His undergraduate degree is in Psychology and Philosophy, with a graduate degree in Child Development. At 22, he served as the youngest President of a provincial Canadian Mental Health Association division in history. He is the youngest member of the board of directors for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

July 30, 2013 Steve Lurie's letter to the Globe & Mail in response to the article, "Police conduct back in spotlight after Toronto streetcar shooting," published July 28, 2013

gta-shooting29nw1Once again brandishing a weapon and having a mental illness results in a death sentence. While we await the results of the special investigations unit review and hopefully another coroners inquest, we need to look beyond police actions and determine whether better access to mental health services could have prevented this tragedy. Toronto police apprehend over 6,000 “emotionally disturbed persons” per year and while there are relatively few cases of personal injury or death, the Police Services Board Mental Health Sub Committee has called for a target of zero deaths. While police training has improved, the police remain the only 24 hour mental health crisis response in the city aside from hospital emergency departments. Even the police crisis intervention teams do not operate 24-7 or provide full coverage across the city. More troubling is the fact that only one in three people with mental health problems get any care at all and that mental health spending has declined as a proportion of health spending from 12% in 1979 to less than 7%, despite 25 years of reform rhetoric.

To read the Globe & Mail article Click Here