Thinking about suicide? 9-8-8 is here to help. Call or text 9-8-8 toll-free, anytime. English and French.

You are currently on the:

CMHA National

Visit our provincial websites

Emergency Departments aren’t the cure for our mental health crisis but there’s nowhere else to turn

Act for Mental Health calls for the promised Canada Mental Health Transfer now


Edmonton, AB (December 12th) – With rising mental health care needs and Emergency Departments stretched past their limits, Canada must act now to cover mental health care, both before and after people are in crisis. So says the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) with a coalition of Canadian organizations as they launch Act for Mental Health, an advocacy campaign calling for the creation of the promised Canada Mental Health Transfer. 

Mental illnesses and substance use disorders will affect one in three Canadians in their lifetime, and research shows the pandemic made things worse.[1] Of those millions of people, one in three can’t get the care they need. More than residents of any other province, Albertans say they are feeling stressed, angry, lonely, or depressed. 2 in 5 Albertans say financial concerns have been a source of stress in the past two weeks, and roughly 1 in 2 (45%) say being able to cope with uncertainty has been difficult. Those numbers are the highest of any province across Canada.

“When someone is in a mental health crisis, all roads lead to a hospital,” says Margaret Eaton, CMHA National CEO. “There is often nowhere else to turn, but Emergency Departments aren’t the cure for our mental health crisis.”

“The pandemic revealed the limitations of our mental health systems and services available” states Giri Puligandla, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton Region. “People are struggling with their mental health more than ever, and to properly support them we need to transform systems and services, so they work for people and their families, and make for simpler journeys towards receiving help and recovering.”

Under the Canada Health Act, mental health care is only covered by public health insurance when it is provided by physicians and/or in hospitals, Millions of Canadians don’t have a family doctor[2] and can wait months, or more, to see a psychiatrist. Family doctors face challenges in caring for patients with mental health concerns, and publicly funded referral options are scarce.

As a conservative estimate, Canadians pay over $1 billion every year on private psychological services alone. While some free mental health and substance use health services exist, persistent underfunding to community-based agencies means wait lists are long and services are limited. When we can’t afford to pay, often we don’t get the care we need, which can lead to crisis and to hospital.

Canadians are encouraged to Act for Mental Health by visiting and signing the petition. Together we will press the government to provide all Canadians with access to universal mental health care.

The Act for Mental Health campaign is supported by a coalition of Canadian organizations and calls for the promised Canada Mental Health Transfer in the next federal budget as a first step towards true and universal public mental health care.

About Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton Region

CMHA Edmonton works within the community to support people experiencing mental illness and their families through advocacy, education, research, services, and programming. CMHA Edmonton works alongside community partners to service vulnerable and targeted populations who are living with or are at risk of developing mental health challenges. The organization provides education and training programs to various community actors and nurtures strong relationships within Edmonton through community-based services.

For media inquiries:

Catie Whyte

[email protected]



Skip to content