Responding to the new mental health urgency in our city
TORONTO (October 18, 2023) – Toronto is one of the best places in the world to live, but when it comes to mental health, there’s a growing urgency to move beyond our current focus on mental illness to improve mental wellness. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this urgency.
That’s why Thrive Toronto, a multi-sector partnership of leading groups active in mental health, is today releasing Toronto’s first mental health plan to focus on mental wellness and psychological health.
“There is more to mental health than diagnosable mental illnesses that need treatment,” says Dr. Kwame McKenzie, CEO of the Wellesley Institute and a member of the Thrive Toronto Advisory Committee. “Increased rates in some adult mental illnesses have been dwarfed by decreases in mental wellness, increased rates of staff burnout, a substance use and overdose crisis and significant increases in psychological issues among children and youth. We can’t neglect the needs of the majority.”
The result of 18 months of research, interviews, stakeholder meetings and analysis, the Thrive Toronto Mental Health Plan includes five key actions:
- the creation of a community mental health report card, to be released in 2024,
- the development of a climate change and mental health strategy,
- support for decreasing stress by improving access to housing,
- the development of resources to support expanded workplace mental health benefits, and
- the creation of a learning centre with tools and training to support mental wellness.
“The Thrive Toronto Mental Health Plan is all about a coordinated, multi-sector approach to tackling the main social drivers of mental health and wellness by directly addressing the systemic causes including poverty, income and housing insecurity, structural inequities and systemic racism,” says Nation Cheong, Vice President, Community Opportunities and Mobilization at United Way Greater Toronto. “Because of the strength of the Thrive Toronto partners and growing public concern about mental health and wellbeing, there’s a unique opportunity to take coordinated action. This plan isn’t just about treating the symptoms; it’s about reshaping the conditions that impact us all.”
“Mental health is everyone’s business,” adds Dr. McKenzie. “The Thrive Toronto Mental Health Plan complements other city-wide efforts underway, and if we can work together to deliver these strategies, we can make our city a better and more resilient place in which to live, work and play.”
The Thrive Toronto Advisory Committee is made up of senior leaders representing the Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), City of Toronto Social Development, Finance and Administration Division, Family Services Toronto, Ontario Health Toronto, Strides Toronto, Toronto Public Health, United Way Greater Toronto, Wellesley Institute and the YMCA of Greater Toronto. The work is funded jointly by the City of Toronto, United Way Greater Toronto and Wellesley Institute.
Thrive Toronto brings together organizations from across sectors to take action that improves the mental wellness and psychological health of Torontonians. Our mission is to transform Toronto into a city where everyone can thrive. Learn more at thriveto.ca.
About Wellesley Institute
Wellesley Institute works in research and policy to improve health and health equity in the GTA through action on the social determinants of health. Visit us at wellesleyinstitute.com.
About United Way Greater Toronto
As the largest non-government funder of community services in the GTA, United Way Greater Toronto reinforces a crucial community safety net to support people living in poverty. United Way’s network of agencies and initiatives in neighbourhoods across Peel, Toronto and York Region works to ensure that everyone has access to the programs and services they need to thrive. Mobilizing community support, United Way’s work is rooted in ground-breaking research, strategic leadership, local advocacy and cross-sectoral partnerships committed to building a more equitable region and lasting solutions to the GTA’s greatest challenges.
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