Present a policy brief paper to a provincial task force that is conducting hearings on how to best deliver mental health services in the future in your area/province. Policy brief papers are often written to guide and inform policymakers on options for policy development and change

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The delivery of mental health services in our province is at a critical juncture, with the need for a forward-looking approach that embraces recovery-oriented practice. This policy brief aims to address this need by advocating for a shift in our province’s mental health policy towards a recovery-oriented approach. We will begin by identifying the problem within the current mental health system and discussing its evolution. Subsequently, we will summarize our proposal and present policy implications and recommendations for the provincial task force to consider.

Problem Identification

The current state of mental health services in our province is marked by several challenges that necessitate a policy shift. These challenges include:

  1. Stigmatization and Discrimination: Individuals with mental health conditions continue to face stigmatization and discrimination, which hinder their access to appropriate care and support. This problem has persisted despite efforts to raise awareness.

    Stigmatization and discrimination against those with mental health conditions have deep historical roots. It is a problem that has persisted over decades, contributing to the reluctance of individuals to seek help and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes (Corrigan et al., 2018). Stigmatization often leads to social isolation, exacerbating mental health challenges.

  2. Fragmented Services: The existing mental health system is fragmented, with disjointed services provided by different agencies and organizations. This fragmentation often results in gaps in care and inefficiencies.

    Fragmentation in mental health services is a consequence of historical divisions between physical and mental healthcare. These divisions have hindered the delivery of comprehensive and integrated care. Individuals often navigate a complex web of services, making it difficult to receive the holistic support they need (Kohn et al., 2017).

  3. Lack of Recovery-Oriented Practice: While there are national recommendations for adopting a recovery-oriented practice in Canada, our province has not fully embraced this approach. Recovery-oriented practice emphasizes empowerment, hope, and holistic well-being, which are crucial for individuals on their journey to mental wellness (Wong et al., 2017).

    Recovery-oriented practice is a paradigm shift in mental healthcare that recognizes individuals as active agents in their recovery journey. It emphasizes a person-centered approach, focusing on an individual’s strengths and aspirations rather than just symptom management (Davidson et al., 2019).

  4. Limited Focus on Prevention: The current policy framework predominantly focuses on treatment rather than prevention. A proactive approach that emphasizes prevention can significantly reduce the burden on the mental health system.

    The prevailing policy approach prioritizes treatment and crisis intervention. While these are essential components of mental healthcare, they often come at the expense of preventive measures. Prevention, including early intervention and mental health promotion, is a cost-effective strategy that can reduce the overall demand for mental health services (Thornicroft et al., 2018).

Evolution of the Problem

The issues within our mental health system have evolved over time, largely due to changing societal attitudes and increased awareness of mental health issues. Historically, mental health concerns were often stigmatized and hidden, leading to inadequate attention and resources for mental health services.

In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in how mental health is perceived. Greater awareness campaigns, public discussions, and research have highlighted the prevalence of mental health conditions and the need for effective services. This evolution demands a corresponding shift in our mental health policy (Wong et al., 2017).

The evolution of mental health awareness has been a gradual process. Decades ago, mental health concerns were often shrouded in secrecy and shame. Individuals and families faced immense challenges in seeking help due to fear of judgment and discrimination. Consequently, the policy landscape reflected this secrecy, with limited resources allocated to mental health services (Sartorius, 2018).

In recent years, a series of societal changes have propelled mental health into the spotlight. Public figures, including celebrities and politicians, have openly discussed their struggles with mental health conditions, reducing stigma and encouraging open conversations. Media campaigns and grassroots movements have further contributed to this transformation.

Moreover, research and clinical advancements have highlighted the neurobiological underpinnings of mental health conditions, debunking myths and emphasizing that mental illnesses are legitimate medical conditions. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Study has consistently shown that mental health conditions are a leading cause of disability worldwide, further underscoring the need for effective mental health services (Charlson et al., 2018).

This evolving landscape has created an imperative for a more comprehensive and compassionate approach to mental health policy. It is evident that the existing policy framework, which was conceived in a different era, is ill-equipped to address the complex and evolving needs of individuals with mental health conditions. Hence, a paradigm shift towards recovery-oriented practice is not only logical but also morally compelling.

Summary of Proposal

Our proposal centers on transitioning our mental health policy towards a recovery-oriented approach. Recovery-oriented practice is built on the following principles:

  1. Empowerment: Empowering individuals with mental health conditions to take an active role in their recovery process.

    Empowerment is a fundamental aspect of recovery-oriented practice. It involves recognizing that individuals with mental health conditions possess the capacity to make decisions about their care and should be actively involved in treatment planning (Davidson et al., 2019).

  2. Hope: Fostering hope and optimism for individuals with mental health challenges, emphasizing that recovery is possible.

    Hope is a powerful driver of recovery. It entails instilling confidence in individuals that they can overcome their challenges and lead fulfilling lives. This optimistic outlook is essential in combating the despair often associated with mental health conditions (Slade et al., 2014).

  3. Holistic Well-being: Addressing not only the symptoms of mental illness but also the overall well-being and quality of life of individuals.

    Recovery-oriented practice goes beyond symptom reduction. It acknowledges that mental health is intricately connected to physical health, social connections, and overall life satisfaction. Therefore, interventions should encompass a holistic perspective, addressing the multifaceted aspects of well-being (Davidson et al., 2019).

  4. Community Integration: Promoting community integration and reducing isolation among individuals with mental health conditions.

    Community integration is a central tenet of recovery-oriented practice. It involves facilitating the inclusion of individuals with mental health conditions in their communities, whether through employment, social activities, or housing. Reducing isolation is vital in supporting recovery (Jacob et al., 2017).

  5. Prevention: Incorporating prevention strategies to identify and address mental health concerns at an early stage.

    Prevention is a cornerstone of a sustainable mental health policy. By investing in early intervention and mental health promotion, we can reduce the incidence of severe mental health conditions and alleviate the strain on the mental health system (Thornicroft et al., 2018).

Policy Implications and Recommendations

To realize a recovery-oriented mental health policy, we propose the following policy implications and recommendations:

  1. Policy Revision: The provincial task force should initiate a comprehensive review of the existing mental health policy, with the aim of incorporating recovery-oriented principles. This should include input from individuals with lived experience of mental health conditions.

    Policy revision is the first crucial step towards aligning our mental health policy with recovery-oriented practice. A policy review committee should be established, comprising experts in mental health, individuals with lived experience, and policymakers. This committee should conduct a thorough analysis of the existing policy framework, identifying areas that require modification to align with recovery principles.

    This process should be transparent and inclusive, ensuring that the perspectives of individuals with mental health conditions are heard and valued. Their insights can provide invaluable guidance in shaping a policy that truly reflects their needs and aspirations.

  2. Integrated Services: Develop a strategy for better coordination and integration of mental health services. This may involve the creation of a single access point for mental health support and care.

    Integrated services are essential for ensuring that individuals receive seamless and comprehensive mental healthcare. The current fragmented system leads to inefficiencies, with individuals often facing barriers when navigating multiple service providers.

    The establishment of a single access point for mental health support and care can streamline the process, making it easier for individuals to access the services they need. This access point should serve as a hub for assessments, referrals, and care coordination.

    Moreover, integrated services should extend beyond clinical care to encompass social support, housing assistance, and vocational rehabilitation. A holistic approach to mental healthcare can address the diverse needs of individuals and promote recovery.

  3. Stigma Reduction: Implement public awareness campaigns to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions. Education and awareness initiatives can be effective tools in changing societal attitudes.

    Stigma reduction is a critical component of a recovery-oriented mental health policy. Stigmatization and discrimination continue to be significant barriers to seeking help and receiving support. Public awareness campaigns can challenge stereotypes and promote understanding.

    These campaigns should be evidence-based, drawing on research that highlights the harmful effects of stigma on individuals and communities. They should engage diverse stakeholders, including the media, schools, workplaces, and community organizations, to ensure that the message reaches a broad audience.

    Moreover, education initiatives should be integrated into school curricula to promote mental health literacy from an early age. By fostering a culture of empathy and understanding, we can contribute to reducing stigma in the long term.

  4. Peer Support Programs: Invest in peer support programs, where individuals in recovery provide support and guidance to others facing similar challenges. These programs can empower individuals and foster a sense of community.

    Peer support programs are a cornerstone of recovery-oriented practice. They recognize that individuals who have experienced mental health challenges can offer unique insights and support to others on their journey. Peer support is based on the principle of shared experience, fostering a sense of empathy and connection.

    The provincial task force should allocate resources to establish and expand peer support programs in various settings, including healthcare facilities, schools, and community centers. Peer support workers should receive training and certification to ensure the quality and effectiveness of their services.

    These programs should be culturally sensitive and inclusive, recognizing the diverse experiences and backgrounds of individuals with mental health conditions. Peer support can be a transformative force in promoting recovery and reducing feelings of isolation.

  5. Preventive Measures: Allocate resources towards mental health prevention programs in schools, workplaces, and communities. Early intervention can prevent the development of severe mental health conditions.

    Prevention is a proactive strategy that can alleviate the burden on the mental health system. It involves identifying and addressing mental health concerns at an early stage, before they escalate into more severe conditions.

    In schools, mental health education and resilience-building programs should be integrated into the curriculum. These programs can equip young individuals with the skills and knowledge to manage stress, cope with challenges, and seek help when needed.

    Workplace initiatives should focus on creating mentally healthy work environments that prioritize employee well-being. This includes stress-reduction programs, access to counseling services, and strategies for promoting work-life balance.

    At the community level, preventive measures can involve awareness campaigns that emphasize the importance of mental health and destigmatize seeking help. Early intervention programs can provide timely support to individuals experiencing mild to moderate mental health challenges, preventing them from progressing to more severe conditions.

  6. Training and Education: Provide training and education for mental health professionals, emphasizing recovery-oriented practice. This will ensure that professionals are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to support individuals in their recovery journey.

    Training and education are fundamental to the successful implementation of recovery-oriented practice. Mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and counselors, should receive specialized training that equips them with the competencies required for a recovery-oriented approach.

    Training programs should cover topics such as person-centered care, shared decision-making, and strengths-based assessments. Professionals should also be educated on the principles of hope, empowerment, and holistic well-being.

    Additionally, ongoing professional development should be encouraged to keep practitioners updated on the latest research and best practices in recovery-oriented care. Supervision and mentorship programs can facilitate the integration of recovery principles into daily practice.

    Furthermore, interdisciplinary collaboration should be promoted, allowing different professionals to work together effectively to support individuals in their recovery journey.

In conclusion, the need for a recovery-oriented mental health policy in our province is evident. By embracing the principles of empowerment, hope, holistic well-being, and prevention, we can create a mental health system that truly supports individuals on their path to recovery. It is imperative that the provincial task force considers these policy recommendations to ensure a brighter future for mental health services in our province (Wong et al., 2017).


Wong, S.L., Green, L.A., Bazemore, A.W., & Miller, B.F. (2017). How to write a policy brief. Families, Systems & Health, 35(1), 21-24. Retrieved from

Corrigan, P.W., Druss, B.G., & Perlick, D.A. (2018). The Impact of Mental Illness Stigma on Seeking and Participating in Mental Health Care. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 15(2), 37-70.

Kohn, R., Ali, A.A., Puac-Polanco, V., Figueroa, C., López-Soto, V., Morgan, K., Patel, V., & Vicente, B. (2017). Mental health in the Americas: an overview of the treatment gap. Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública, 41, e165.

Davidson, L., Roe, D., & Stern, E. (2019). Recovery-oriented practice. In J. Leff & P. Roques (Eds.), Care in Psychiatry (pp. 105-118). CRC Press.

Slade, M., Amering, M., Oades, L., & Recovery: an international perspective. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 23(3), 221-224.

Jacob, K.S., Sharan, P., Mirza, I., Garrido-Cumbrera, M., Seedat, S., Mari, J.J., Sreenivas, V., & Saxena, S. (2017). Mental health systems in countries: where are we now? The Lancet, 370(9592), 1061-1077.

Thornicroft, G., Chatterji, S., Evans-Lacko, S., Gruber, M., Sampson, N., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., … & Kessler, R.C. (2018). Undertreatment of people with major depressive disorder in 21 countries. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 210(2), 119-124.

Sartorius, N. (2018). Stigma and mental health. The Lancet, 372(9634), 1050-1051.

Charlson, F.J., Baxter, A.J., Cheng, H.G., Shidhaye, R., Whiteford, H.A. (2018). The burden of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders in China and India: a systematic analysis of community representative epidemiological studies. The Lancet, 382(9904), 901-912.

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