Reverse Ontario Cuts to Mental Health Funding

Reverse Ontario Cuts to Mental Health Funding

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Natalia Segal started this petition to Doug Ford

I trusted S fully, with my heart and mind. I have known him and his fiancé for years and have been to their house on many occasions. We had talked about boundaries in our relationship many times and have previously agreed that we wouldn’t pursue a relationship because we were both hot-heads and had similar mental health challenges. That’s why I didn’t think it was weird when he invited me over and said his fiancé was away with family. After all, they were both good friends and knew about my history of trauma.

We watched documentaries and danced while he fried us some tofu and then it was time to go to bed.

I volunteered to sleep on the couch in the living room, which was super uncomfortable and old, but he insisted that we could both sleep in the bedroom and that he would behave.

We walk into the bedroom and get into bed, just chatting away about movies, until he turns around and tries to kiss me. I say no and tell him it’s not a good idea and that I am not happy about this, but he insists on trying to kiss me so I physically try to pull away and he grabs me and pins me against the bed, kissing me and trying to take off my clothes. I punch him with my fists and try to kick him off but he continues until he seems exasperated with the struggle and I manage to go to the other room.

I tell him that I will sleep on the couch because I have no money and TTC was no longer operating at 3 AM around where he lived, so I stay. I keep one eye open in case he comes into the living room but I try to breathe until my breathing goes back to normal and I can’t, so I stay partially awake at morning and then he coming into the living room like nothing happened and asks if I want breakfast. I leave promptly, hungry, and broken from the betrayal.

I am sad but I think that I am ok because this sort of thing has happened before with people and I know it will happen again because I am a woman. I go numb and try not to think about it but it haunts every relationship I have from then on and I can’t seem to enjoy myself.

I try CBT therapy and meditation and all sorts of therapies but I feel empty and paranoid and alone, so I am diagnosed as schizotypal, bipolar, anxious (bordering on OCD) and borderline, and I carry the stigma with me everywhere.

And then I meet her. She tells me that what I have is PTSD and reassures me that my response to trauma is normal. I want to cry but I feel too numb and disconnected, but suddenly it all makes sense…the paranoia, the angry outbursts and the disassociation. Suddenly I feel validated and hopeful about healing.

Only it’s going to cost me thousands of dollars in trauma therapy because only short term CBT is covered publicly and the waiting lists are sometimes years long.
This is my story and I have heard hundreds if not thousands of similar stories from women across Ontario who are desperately trying to heal from trauma and struggle with mental health symptoms such as depression, flashbacks, anxiety and inability to focus. And all this is because rape and sexual assault are still prevalent in our society.

According to Statistics Canada, over 74 individuals per 100,000 reported sexual assault in 2018, up from about 62 per 100,000 in the previous year. -

When we consider that these are reported cases and many victims do not report, the numbers must be much higher…so surely the government of Ontario is doing something when rape crisis centres report having waiting lists that are over a year long! Surely the Ford government is funding trauma therapy and increasing funding for rape crisis centres!

It’s not.

In fact, Ontario cancelled $1M in additional funding for rape crisis centres amidst this crisis and this is likely to result in even longer wait times and what’s not being taken into account is that crisis centres often rely on volunteers and do not have long-term trauma therapy available for clients with severe Complex-PTSD.

(UPDATE: funding has been restored to Rape Crisis Centres now!)

But now we have free CBT treatment for all Canadians, right? So the Ford government is coming through with their $20M boost, right? That’s not quite true.

First of all, Ford has cut mental health funding:

“Last summer, as one of its first cuts, the Ford government announced $1.9 billion in mental health funding over 10-years. They made this announcement as if it was an increase. In reality it was a decrease in the planned mental health funding that had been passed by the Legislature a few months earlier. ($2.1 billion over 4-years down to $1.9 billion over 10-years.) The Official Opposition NDP reported to the Legislature that the cut amounts to $330 million per year.” -

Second, CBT therapy is actually counterproductive to people with anxiety and depression that are rooted in trauma:

Nearly 40 percent of patients who started CBT dropped out. They voted with their feet about its value.
Sixty percent of the patients still had PTSD after completing treatment.
One hundred percent of the patients were clinically depressed after completing treatment.
At a six-month follow-up, patients who received CBT were no better than those in the control group.
Nineteen serious “adverse events” (suicide attempts, psychiatric hospitalizations) occurred over the course of the study.
The authors noted that patients “may need more treatment than the relatively small number of sessions typically provided in a clinical trial.”

When we consider the new free CBT program in this context, what we find is that the government is trying to save money, which is well and noble and it makes sense on a superficial level but are they really saving money by providing CBT therapy that is only really effective for minor anxiety and depression? Are they leaving veterans, assault victims and other folks with severe traumas behind?

The result of the proposed cuts and the new program will be that victims of trauma like myself and many others will have to pay thousands out of pocket because of a problem that is social in nature and has more to do with how men are socialized to behave around women than the character flaws of some individual males.

Consider this: we have become painfully aware of rape and rape culture following the recent #MeToo movement but the numbers of sexually disturbing behaviour committed largely by men continues to rise.

Consider that men are being taught that women are acting “hard to get” and that they should be more aggressive and persistent. Consider that TV shows and movies still show toxic and abusive relationships as normal. Consider that famous abusers continue to have fans because they have earned some sort of entitlement to women’s bodies. These are just a few of the points that lead me to conclude that we are all collectively responsible for protecting victims and fighting rape culture.

How can we do this? We can do this by holding our government accountable and responsible for providing victims with effective therapy options and fighting to restore funding to rape crisis centres.

What we expect:

1.       Restoring $1M in funding to rape crisis centres

2.       Restoring increase to mental health funding and giving people the option to choose between CBT, DBT or other therapies as appropriate for trauma victims.

We hold Ontario government responsible for providing a variety of effective mental health interventions for people with a variety of diagnoses and we will persist in appealing to the government for support because poor mental health results in suicides, lost economic productivity and an enormous financial burden for individuals of a lower socio-economic status.

Please sign this petition to help garner support for the reversal of the decisions to cut mental health funding and make it inaccessible for many who are in active crisis.

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