As we approach the holiday season, it’s fitting to reflect on the year that was 2013. It was a year of changes and challenges that the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) met head on, alone and with our partners.
Our advocacy efforts have been strengthened since we welcomed Glenn Brimacombe as the Association’s new Chief Executive Officer in August.
Founded in 1951, the CPA is the national voice for Canada’s psychiatrists. The Association is a well-respected and active medical organization committed to serving the needs of its members and furthering the overall health of the population. It is the leading authority on psychiatric matters in Canada.
On a national level, the CPA has called for national mental health standards for our health system and dedicated, equitable funding for mental health. It also has been a leader in the call for action to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. CPA represents the profession of psychiatry to governments, the public, universities, medical associations, licensing and certifying bodies, and other healthcare organizations.
Some of our “hot files” in 2013 included off-label prescribing, mental illness among Canadian Forces members and veterans, suicide prevention, and Bill C-14, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act (formerly known as Bill C-54).
We often work in collaboration with others to advance the mental health agenda. To this end, the CPA is proud to be a founding member of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH), which brings together diverse organizations that share a common vision of a country where Canadians’ mental health is a priority and those with a mental illness are treated with respect, provided with support, and can access care.
Last year, the CPA and other partner mental health organizations, supported the passage of Bill C-300, which requires the government to establish a federal framework for suicide prevention. Now the Public Health Agency of Canada is consulting with stakeholders nationwide, including the CPA, on what the framework should include.
The CPA is also part of a National Collaborative on Suicide Prevention, along with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, tasked with building suicide prevention capacity, promoting knowledge exchange and informing public policy.
Collaboration has also helped us amplify our voice on Bill C-54, now Bill C-14. We are part of a Coalition made up of 12 mental health organizations, which continues to voice our concerns about the Bill.
This past year, the CPA formed a Military and Veterans section, bringing together researchers and clinicians working with the military, veterans and their families to collaborate on and foster evidence-based care and research.
Combating stigma and discrimination is also an important aspect of advocacy and the CPA continues to support Mental Illness Awareness Week. The week was founded by the CPA and is now administered through CAMIMH.
The CPA promotes research and continuing education among its members by establishing and maintaining standards of practice and facilitating maintenance of competence in the practice of general and specialized psychiatry. It is working with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, MHCC and the College of Family Physicians of Canada to identify the mental health core competencies for family doctors and specialists.
We expect 2014 to be just as eventful as we move forward together to advance the mental health agenda in Canada. Happy holidays to all.