We Saved Psychotherapy!! For now...
Updated: Apr 19
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WE DID IT!
For over three years patients who rely on psychotherapy insured by the province's universal health plan (OHIP) have lived under threat that their treatment will be reduced or suddenly halted.
The odds were against us. We fought to make politicians and administrators understand this was a terrible, harmful, and backward proposal. Practitioners made their own case within their private contract negotiation process with the Ministry of Health who had proposed the funding cuts.
The threat dragged on after referral to a special committee that would decide the fate of psychotherapy funding. In the Ministry of Health's estimation, the "savings" amounted to $13.2M. (You can read our website's arguments that this is an entirely misleading estimation.)
By March 2020, COVID took precedence over all other concerns. The threats were not removed but stayed on the table despite the mental health onslaught due to the pandemic.
Incredibly, the Ministry of Health and the Minister of Health held their ground. The plan to cut psychotherapy funding stood.
Until the end of March. 2022.
We're now clear until March 31, 2024!!
This is an international victory since the trend in Western countries is to fund short-term treatments for mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Health administrators work with developers of Artificial Intelligence to prioritize digital over personalized mental health support. The patient's need to build a trusting, productive relationship with their therapist beyond a handful of sessions is considered an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. According to statistics from the United Kingdom, minimal improvement based on sessional score sheets is all the State can afford to offer. Although this mental health delivery service is available to all, many drop out before the second session of the few they are offered, and those with severe and complex issues are screened out. Where these centralized, data-driven plans have been established, as in the U. K. and Australia, people who need longer term or intensive psychotherapies must make do with a patchwork of dead-end treatments.*
Tens of thousands of Ontarians who have tried and failed short-term psychoeducation and medications understand the value of publicly funding a range of psychotherapies that are clinically proven and backed by decades of research. These patient-centred modalities, which are already in acutely short supply, are headed for extinction from Canadian public health services unless we speak out now, while Canada redesigns its mental health delivery following the lead of U. K. and Australia.
As for Ontario psychotherapy patients, they have fought and won a reprieve on OHIP funding cuts until March 2024.
*OPFP has learned first hand about these negative consequences from U.K. and Australian clients and practitioners, and through our own extensive research. For a sample of peer-reviewed papers, see our evidence pages. Also see ongoing research at the University of Ottawa's Psychotherapy Practice Research Network (PPRNET) linked in our psychotherapy advocacy groups page.