Digging Deeper: Mental health advocates pushing for more government funding

REGINA – Earlier this week, Global News reported that Saskatchewan’s funding for mental health services is among the lowest in the country.

Kyle Moffat lost his father Wade, who struggled with bipolar disorder and alcoholism for years. Moffat says not enough is being done to address the problem in our province.

“We knew it was an issue, but there is just not a set program for a person like that to go on. There’s nowhere for the family to reach out and say ‘what do we do?'” said Moffat, Wednesday.

READ MORE: Sask. among lowest of provinces in funding mental health services

David Nelson with the Saskatchewan division of the Canadian Mental Health Association says Moffat’s case is not uncommon.

“Many people who have alcohol problems also suffer depression – about 30 to 40 per cent of people. And many more people actually use alcohol and drugs to self medicate for depression.”

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Saskatchewan is home to about 25 short-term residential facilities, mostly in remote areas. But there is a lack of help for people who suffer from both mental health issues and addictions simultaneously.

“So we need to really build up the expertise and we also really need to have more longer term residences,” says Nelson.

Five per cent of the provincial government’s $5 billion health budget is allocated to mental health – that’s two per cent less than the Canadian average which is a difference of about $120 million.

Last December, Saskatchewan endorsed a 10-year plan to address mental health issues, by offering 16 broad recommendations for improving services across the province.