OASW Affirms World Mental Health Day and Commits to Advancing Mental Health for All

October 10th is World Mental Health Day. This day signals the critical need to raise awareness and advocate for increased access to mental health supports worldwide. In keeping with this year’s theme, “mental health care for all; let’s make it a reality,” OASW affirms that every individual deserves and must be assured equitable and timely access to the mental health care they require.

Over the past eighteen months, mental health and well-being has been challenged as COVID-19 has re-shaped lives, families, and communities. Even before the pandemic, the mental health system was in crisis. Inequitable access and underfunding have left many waiting for care. With one in two individuals experiencing a mental illness by the time they turn 40, we must recognize that mental health is health and boost investments accordingly. We can recover faster and more sustainably if quality mental health care is accessible to all.

Social workers are the largest providers of psychotherapy and mental health supports in Ontario. As such, we play an essential role in providing access to mental health care across sectors. This includes addressing the complex needs of individuals in new and innovative ways, such as virtual care. Yet, across the province, people continue to face difficulty in accessing appropriate mental health supports. 

We need to critically examine the ability of our system to respond to the diverse needs of Ontarians and address racial disproportionality and disparity and lived experiences. In addition, cost-effective solutions to reduce excessive wait-times and to enable timely interventions are crucial for the range of populations our profession provides services for. There is significant work ahead to remove barriers to respectful, culturally-appropriate, and inclusive care. This includes a commitment to social justice and anti-racist practice.

On World Mental Health Day, OASW calls for increased access and investments in mental health care. As an Association we continue to raise awareness and foster open discussions about confronting stigma and changing the landscape of mental health and its access points.  As a part of this work, we continue to engage with many partners to support the promotion of credible information and education. This forthright commitment to mental health is long overdue and will be foundational as we continue our journey towards equity integration in our work as an Association. 

As social workers, we must take this important opportunity to honour and care for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. Social work is integral to the delivery of a shared vision for mental health care now and in the years to come. We thank the social workers of Ontario for your vast contributions to the profession and to the health and mental health of Ontarians during this difficult time. 

About OASW
OASW is the voice of social work in Ontario. It is a voluntary, bilingual, non-profit association representing approximately 7,500+ social workers. All members have a university degree in social work at the bachelor, master or doctoral level. OASW works to actively speak on behalf of social workers on issues of interest to the profession and advocates for the improvement of social policies and programs directly affecting social work practice and client groups served.