Health equity means equitable care
Health equity is concerned with creating equal opportunities for good health for all people, reducing avoidable and unjust differences in health among population groups.
While mental illness and substance use can affect anyone, people in less advantaged groups have a higher chance of poor mental health due to their social and economic circumstances. The critical role of poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing, discrimination, racism and other forms of social exclusion in creating inequities in mental health has been well documented.
• Mental disorders are more prevalent among low income Canadians.
• Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men.
• Refugees have high rates of trauma-related disorders.
• LGBTIQ people are about two times more likely than heterosexual individuals to experience mood and anxiety disorders in their lifetime.
• The overall suicide rate among First Nation communities is about twice the national average.
Equity does not mean equality or “treating everyone the same”. Truly equitable care is responsive to individual client needs, values and resources. It is also about providing health care professionals with tools and strategies for applying an equity approach to policies, programs and services.
Why is health equity important in mental health care?
Despite Canada’s universal health care system, social and economic factors continue to affect people’s access to mental health services and the quality of care received; data show persistent and worrying inequities in mental health care.
The impact of inadequate access to mental health care is increased use of emergency services, increased hospitalization, poorer outcomes, and increased family and community burden of mental illness.
What is CAMH doing about health equity?
CAMH is a recognized leader in health equity in Toronto. We have a long history as a champion
of diversity and we have made a long-term organizational commitment to reducing disparities in mental illness and treatment in marginalized groups. The CAMH Health Equity Office works with partners in our organization and across Toronto to ensure equity-based improvements in the mental health and addiction sector.
Check back to this blog in early 2014 and see how the data collected from clients has helped us identify what is working well and where there is room for improvement.