Good job Bell Canada.
Last year Bell’s “Let’s Talk” program raised $6,107,538.60 to support some programs in mental health. They also raised awareness and bravo. The problem is this is just a drop in the proverbial bucket for the most underfunded and misunderstood sector of the health industry in Canada.
According to figures from Mood Disorders Society of Canada (2009) “the cost of supporting someone with serious mental illness to live in the community: $34,418 per year (all costs). The cost of keeping someone with serious mental illness in the hospital: $170,820 per year. That means the money raised by Bell could keep 35.75 people in hospital or 186 people in the community.
Facts from the Canadian Mental Health Association along with many others suggest 20% of us deal with mental health issues. That means if only 5% have serious mental health issues (and I’m not sure who draws that line) there are about 1,758,000 have a serious mental health issue. Translation = another 1,723,000 still need help.
Ireally have trouble with huge numbers but I think I have it figured out. The economic cost of mental illness in Canada was 7.9 billion in 1998. That is things like time lost in work and all else economic. It also says in the CMHA numbers that 4.7 billion was spent in care with another 3.2 billion in disability and early death. Another 6.3 billion was spend on uninsured mental health servics like psychiatrists and therapists.
If my calculation is correct that means to support support that 5% we have a shortfall of about $52 billion. ($52,000,000,000)
I’ve worked in mental health for 20 years and I know there are some great ways to save money and improve care which are already available but under utilized in the mental health system. Cutting down the number of snacks per person in the hospital is not likely the way to improve the situation though cutting salaries in the six figures and putting it in the front line where it is needed might help. Perhaps a more simplistic view is to just start caring for people. If we all started to care for the people who need help, if we loved them a little and didn’t make them live on the street or feel ashamed of their issues we might have a beginning.
So thanks again Bell but until you can influence the heart of the country and the will of the politicians we don’t really have much chance of making a dent in this issue. Increasing the telephone usage for one day isn’t really going to help many people beyond the publicity department at Bell.