Ontario NDP Just Promised Free Mental Health Care If They Get Elected This Summer

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Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath on April 3.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath on April 3.

There has been a rise in concerns related to mental health across the country within the last two years, and the NDP wants to make sure residents can get the help they need.

Currently, the only coverage provided by OHIP to treat mental health issues is prescription medications for people under 25, treatment from psychiatrists that are referred by family doctors, and therapy services that are part of a family health team.

Well, Ontario's NDP leader Andrea Horwath said that could change if she's elected as premier on June 2.

In an announcement held at an outdoor event in Toronto on Sunday, April 3, Horwath promised to add mental health care coverage to OHIP if she wins the 2022 provincial elections.

"Mental health care is health care. Today I'm announcing that an NDP government in Ontario will deliver Universal Mental Health Care. Let’s build a better Ontario, where you get mental health care with your OHIP card, not your credit card," Horwath tweeted, linking to a video of the announcement.

What they have planned

To do this, she explained that the NDP plans to work with existing community-based providers to bring them into the publicly-funded system, and then "ramp up funding to train [the] doctors, nurses, community health care workers and social workers [to] increase the number of available mental health practitioners."

With this publicly funded program, the NDP shared it will aim to provide access to everyone who needs psychotherapy and will introduce at least six sessions of treatment with OHIP. Patients who need it can have their treatments upped to 12 sessions.

Horwath mentioned that over half a million people in Ontario who have mental health needs don't have access to counselling or therapy services due to a lack of insurance and that over 28,000 young people are currently waiting for mental health treatment in the province.

"We'll ensure mental health services are provided by qualified professionals through OHIP, whether they're provided by a doctor in a hospital or a social worker in a community health center," she said.

In addition to this, she said that the NDP plans to build 30,000 supportive homes for people living with mental health and addictions challenges.

Throughout the pandemic, the Ford government has made various investments in mental health during a pandemic that's exposed the need for these services in Ontario, like expanding access to mental health resources for students and First Nation communities in Ontario.

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