New National Mental Health Coalition Joins CMHA Mental Health Week Campaign

‘We are sick of waiting. We need improvements to the public drug plan system.’

OTTAWAMay 4, 2017 /- For this year’s annual Mental Health Week, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is using the theme Sick of Waiting: Get Loud for Mental Health to raise awareness around the issue of long waiting lists. It’s a perfect opportunity for Canada’s newest, precedent-setting mental health coalition to add its voice to the CMHA campaign. The Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication (CEADM) is calling for changes to Canada’s public drug plan system, which currently is preventing many Canadians from getting the treatment they need to get better.

“CEADM was launched yesterday to raise awareness around access to innovative depression medications. It makes sense to join CMHA’s Sick of Waiting campaign,” says Ann Marie MacDonald, CEADM’s Ontario regional co-chair and Executive Director of the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. “Access to treatment should not be limited to those select few with employment benefits, while Canada’s most vulnerable — the marginalized, the unemployed, veterans, seniors, single parents, Indigenous peoples — continue to struggle.”

CEADM was created by mental health professionals and leaders, advocate, doctors, academics and people with lived experience to:

  • create awareness and recognition among policy-makers about the complexity of major depressive disorder and the effects of depression on Canadians’ overall health;
  • highlight the inequity/fairness issue for many Canadians who rely on what is a broken public drug plan approval system; and
  • make better depression care a priority among policy-makers.

“Mental illness including addictions affects the entire country — nearly every Canadian community, family and workplace. One of the biggest challenges facing Canadians with mental health issues is timely access to care, with waiting times an ongoing, and increasing, problem,” says Dr. Patrick Smith, a member of CEADM’s national leadership team and CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association. “Many Canadians are being denied equal access to the newest innovative medications for depression. Through this new coalition, we echo CMHA’s concern about wait lists and the fact that people who are living with mental illness still struggle to get the care and supports they need, with ease and without prejudice.”

Three issues are preventing vulnerable Canadians from accessing the latest medications. Depression is complex, with 227 different combinations of symptoms, which means there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to treatment. A wide choice of therapy is critical to be able to find the best option for individual patients when it comes to treating mental illness. And, Canadians who depend on public drug coverage are limited to a range of drugs that are available to treat depression.

“My journey began when I started struggling with severe anxiety at the age of 3 and then continued as I suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts from the age of 16. I am so thankful that I was able to get the help I needed,” says Brianne Moore, a member of CEADM as a person with lived experience and peer support advocate. “Joining CEADM gives me an opportunity to continue my advocacy work — and highlight the importance for all Canadians to get the support they need to get better.”

Members of Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication to date:

Phil Upshall, National Leadership Team; Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Dr. Patrick Smith, National Leadership Team; Canadian Mental Health Association

Jeff Moat, National Leadership Team; Partners for Mental Health

Ann Marie MacDonald, Regional Ontario Co-Chair; Mood Disorders Association of Ontario

Michael Landsberg, Regional Ontario Co-Chair; #SickNotWeak

Laureen MacNeil, Regional Alberta Co-Chair; Canadian Mental Health Association Calgary

Ron Campbell, Regional Alberta Co-Chair; person with lived experience

Dave Grauwiler, Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta

Camille Quenneville, Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario

Dr. Sid Kennedy, University Health Network

Pratap Chokka, Chokka Centre for Integrative Health

Bill Gaudette, formerly CMHA; Past Member, Provincial Mental Health Board (Alberta)

Brianne Moore; person with lived experience, Ontario

Jean-François Claude, #TheMensDen; person with lived experience, Ontario

For further information: For additional information, interviews, etc. please contact Joan Weinman, 613-294-5679.


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