Release of two new National Standards of Canada raise the bar for mental health, addictions and suicide prevention

Press Release

Ottawa – June 20, 2023 – Today, Health Standards Organization (HSO) released two new National Standards of Canada, focused on mental health and addictions services, and suicide prevention, that will raise the bar on ensuring high-quality care across Canada.

Mental health, substance use health, addictions and suicide are significant public health crises both in Canada and globally. Mental illness affects one in five Canadians and one billion people globally. In 2020, substance use in Canada cost over $49 billion, led to over 270,000 hospitalizations and contributed to the loss of nearly 74,000 lives — the equivalent of over 200 lives lost every day. Of the nearly 4,000 Canadian lives lost every year by suicide, the majority were living with a mental health problem or illness.

HSO’s new national standards – HSO 22004:2023 Mental Health and Addictions Services, and HSO 5064:2023 Suicide Prevention Program — are a response to these growing issues. Building on the best available research and wise practices, the standards reflect what Canadians want mental health, substance use health, addictions and suicide prevention care to look like now and into the future. These new national standards were developed by experts from across the country, including a balanced representation of people with lived experience, the workforce, researchers, policymakers and health care stakeholders. Public feedback was gathered through public engagement activities, including open review and consultations, throughout the development of the standards.

HSO’s new National Mental Health and Addictions Services standard focuses on ensuring care delivery respects client rights; is based on clients’ goals, abilities and preferences; provides guidance on providing evidence-informed delivery of care, including intake, assessment, treatment, referrals, cross-team collaboration, transition planning and support; and lastly, ensures teams are provided with education and training to support mental health, substance use health and addictions needs.

HSO’s new National Suicide Prevention Program standard outlines the key ingredients for a comprehensive suicide prevention program, including routine screening for suicide risk, assessment of suicide risk, safety planning, care planning and treatment, and postvention services.

HSO’s new national standards will empower health care organizations and the system to deliver safe, reliable and high-quality care based on individuals’ goals, abilities and preferences. The standards provide best practices and guidance for addressing the pressing mental health, substance use health, addictions and suicide crises experienced across Canada.

The standards are available online at the HSO E-store.


“The new national Mental Health and Addictions Services standard and Suicide Prevention Program standard will significantly improve people-centred, high-quality care and services across Canada. The standards are based on the latest research and best practices in the field. They have been designed to address services across the continuum of care and the unique needs of diverse populations, including youth, Indigenous communities and those with co-occurring disorders.” – Kaye Phillips, PhD, Executive Director, Global Programs at HSO

“When a person falls ill, it has a ripple effect on their family and friends. The standards recognize, endorse and provide guidance on people-centred care. It is so important to support the whole person, and that cannot be done properly without the involvement from their family and friends. We all want the best health outcome for each person and we need to work together to accomplish it.” – Carole Ann Alloway, patient and caregiver partner

“We need a tailored approach to address the needs of people with mental health concerns, substance use health concerns and people with both. Not everyone has concurrent disorders and the system needs to be prepared to address each person as a unique individual with unique needs and goals. By enhancing accountability in treatment, the new standards will go a long way to optimizing the safety and quality of care for people, whatever their needs are.” – Rita Notarandrea, Technical Committee Co-chair and retired CEO of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

“This is a significant step towards improving access to high-quality, people-centred mental health care in Canada. These standards, based on the latest research and best practices, address the diverse needs of individuals across the lifespan. By enhancing accountability and tailoring services to meet each person’s unique needs, goals and preferences, ultimately working towards a healthier and more compassionate society.” – Ed Mantler, Senior Vice President and Chief Program Officer at the Mental Health Commission of Canada

About HSO

Health Standards Organization (HSO) is a global non-profit organization dedicated to working with leading experts and people with lived experience to develop evidence-based standards, assessment programs and quality-improvement solutions. HSO is the only Standards Development Organization (SDO) solely dedicated to health and social services.

Affiliated with Accreditation Canada (AC), HSO standards form the basis of AC’s accreditation programs and are used in over 15,000 locations and 38 countries. For more information see the HSO website.


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