Cost, access are barriers to mental health services in Canada, international survey shows

The 2020 Commonwealth Funds International Health Policy survey focuses on the views and experiences of the basic population age 18 and older. The annual study, which polled clients and service providers in 11 established countries, for the first time included similar information about behaviours impacting health (use of alcohol, tobacco, electronic vaping devices, marijuana and illicit drugs). Other topics covered include expense barriers to care, coordination of care and client experience.

The following is from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, an independent, not-for-profit organization that supplies data and details to accelerate enhancements in healthcare, health system performance and population health across Canada.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released How Canada Compares, which utilizes survey information to compare the reactions of Canadians to those of people in other nations. Here are some crucial findings:

Marijuana: More Canadians reported having utilized cannabis than their worldwide peers (23 percent versus 9 percent). This is greater than the Commonwealth Fund average however comparable to states in the United States where cannabis is legal for recreational usage.

Access to in-person and virtual care: Access continued to be challenging in Canada, with clients reporting troubles with timely access to in-person care. Improvements have been made in access to virtual care however there is still a gap between services doctors report having readily available and services patients report utilizing.

The total report is readily available on the Canadian Institute for Health Information site at https://www.cihi.ca/en/commonwealth-fund-survey-2020

The 2020 Commonwealth Funds International Health Policy survey focuses on the views and experiences of the general population age 18 and older. The yearly survey, which polled patients and service providers in 11 established countries, for the very first time included similar info about behaviours impacting health (use of alcohol, tobacco, electronic vaping gadgets, marijuana and illicit drugs). Other topics covered include cost barriers to care, coordination of care and patient experience.

Heavy drinking: One out of four Canadians reported heavy drinking at least as soon as a month. Further, only 9 percent of respondents in Canada who reported heavy drinking stated they d had a conversation with their healthcare service provider about alcohol usage.

Psychological health: Fewer than half of Canadians who desired assistance for mental health concerns got services. Canadians with mental health conditions reported greater cost barriers to care and monetary distress compared to those without psychological health conditions.

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Vaping: Five per cent of Canadians reported having used electronic vaping devices (e-cigarettes). The rate was highest amongst 18- to 34-year-olds (11 per cent) and least expensive among those 35 and older (3 percent).