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Reading of the Week: Big Buzz, Big Impact? Considering Bell Let’s Talk and Other Awareness Campaigns

From the Editor

Bell Let’s Talk generates incredible attention. The annual effort raised almost $7 million this January, with tens of millions of social media interactions. It was praised by many, including the Prime Minister.

But do awareness campaigns like Bell’s actually result in people seeking care? And are awareness campaigns ultimately helpful? In this week’s Reading, we have two selections that consider these questions.

In the first selection, the study authors look at the Bell campaign, as well as outpatient visits for mental health, tapping Ontario databases. “The 2012 Bell Let’s Talk was temporarily associated with increases in the trends of outpatient mental health visits, especially within the adolescent female cohort.”

The second selection is an interview with Dr. Simon Wessely, one of the most prominent psychiatrists in the U.K., and the president of the Royal Society of Medicine. In a BMJ interview, he weighs in on integrating mental health and physical health services, his choice of psychiatry as a profession, and – yes – the role of awareness campaigns. “Every time we have a mental health awareness week my spirits sink. We don’t need people to be more aware. We can’t deal with the ones who already are aware.”

bell1Big campaign, big impact?

So are awareness campaigns worthwhile? You can read these selections and draw your own conclusions.

DG

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“Mental Health Now!”

From the Editor

Will they cut a deal?

Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins speaks during a health ministers’ meeting last week in Toronto

It’s the question that will be discussed for weeks to come.

But for those of us in mental health, a possible deal is more than an item on the evening news. After all, a new federal-provincial accord could be important, with more money for mental health services. And let’s remember: right now, just 7 cents on every dollar of health spending goes to mental health (in the UK, by contrast, spending is 12 cents on the dollar).

But we hope for more than just a new deal. We hope for a smart new deal – one that will help improve mental health services.

What are steps the federal government could take?

This week’s Reading considers the new report issued by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (or CAMIMH), an alliance of sixteen member organizations, including the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Medical Association, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada. This thoughtful document lays out a five-point plan for bettering mental health services from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Spoiler alert: the plan calls for more spending, yes, but also efforts to improve access, better measurement of the system, and a targeted basic income to help less affluent Canadians.

Also in this reading – tying back to the UK – we look at an article from The Guardian about making mental health services stronger across the Atlantic.

The two pieces offer a strong contrast: about where our debate is in this country – and where mental health services could be with some needed reforms.

DG Continue reading