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More government support needed for mental health and addiction services: CMHA Thames Valley

More government support needed for mental health and addiction services: CMHA Thames Valley
More government support needed for mental health and addiction services: CMHA Thames Valley

Despite the restructuring and staff reductions, CMHA Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services (CMHA Thames Valley) says it will not be able to maintain service levels without additional funding.

“While our financial constraints have had minimal impact on services to date, we anticipate greater impacts in the future,” CEO Pam Tobin stressed. “We will continue to work with funders and partners to advocate for continued, adequate funding. Without additional investment in community-based care, we risk longer wait times, increased pressure on emergency departments, and reduced services during a worsening opioid crisis.”

CMHA Thames Valley CEO Pam Tobin (Source: CMHA Thames Valley)

CMHA Thames Valley is currently calling on the province to increase funding for the mental health and addictions sector – a wise investment, as the services CMHA Thames Valley provides help to alleviate the burden on other service providers, including educational, peer support, wellness and crisis support services. The London Crisis Centre also serves as an ambulance drop-off location for people in crisis, diverting them away from local emergency departments.

More than 15,000 people visit the facility each year and last year CMHA Thames Valley recorded more than 43,000 telephone interactions from people calling its crisis and helplines.

“We know our services are needed,” Tobin said. “Not only by the individuals we serve, but by the community as a whole. Our services help to alleviate the burden on other systems, and we work diligently to ensure that our low-threshold access is not disrupted and the quality of care remains high.”

Despite total revenues of $52.5 million last year, CMHA Thames Valley fell short by $2.6 million despite a five percent increase in base funding – the first significant boost in a decade.

Unfortunately, rising operating costs and ever-increasing demand for their services have far outstripped their ability to stay within their budget, and that funding gap has resulted in CMHA Thames Valley having to cut 30 full-time jobs in the region.

“Community-based care is often paid up to 30 percent less than other health care settings,” Tobin said. “Our employees are doing increasingly complex work with increasing demand for services, and they deserve to be compensated fairly.”