Mental health conditions are a growing public health concern especially in developing nations because of limitations such as financial setbacks, poor education, and limited access to high-quality services. However, marginalized groups in industrialized nations face significant challenges in managing mental health issues due to inequality and discrimination in resource distribution. The Aboriginal people of Canada are an example of a group that is largely neglected, thus allowing mental health conditions to ravage their communities. Although the government, human rights activists, and public health organizations have championed several social welfare policies and initiatives to improve these individuals living conditions, much is yet to be done. Thus, a social welfare policy that aims to encourage positive health-seeking behaviors and ensure more access to mental health services for Aboriginals can help them live a higher quality of life.
Over the past decades, the government of Canada and Parliament have established several policies to help mitigate the mental health crisis and improve the lives of victims. For example, the Canadian Health Act, through Medicare caters to individuals with mental health issues and other conditions, thus allowing more people to access quality healthcare at affordable costs. Moreover, it dictates institutions’ standards of service provision to meet its ultimate goal of protecting and restoring the mental and physical well-being of all individuals in Canada (Heinonen & Metteri, 2005). In addition, provinces have different mental health policies regulated by the Provincial Mental Health Acts. In some provinces, social workers and medical practitioners are mandated to make treatment decisions for patients and enroll them in medical institutions against their will.
On the other hand, organizational policies have shifted from institutional-based mental healthcare to community-based practices. The Second World War encouraged the development of large mental institutions with numerous beds. As a result, individuals perceived as mentally ill were treated in these institutions and separated from the public. However, in the 1970s and 80s, medical organizations started embarking on community-based approaches to address mental health issues and manage their implications on individuals’ life quality (Heinonen & Metteri, 2005). Over the past decade, more organizational social welfare policies have focused on advancing community-based programs to provide unlimited access to supportive frameworks and cater to the needs of chronically ill or previously hospitalized individuals. These policies have enabled significant advancements in mental health treatment and management by allowing more targeted solutions.
Aboriginal people suffer from several issues that contribute to their deteriorated mental health. Therefore, if I was in a position to influence policy formulation, I would establish a comprehensive solution such as offering free treatment for individuals suffering from common mental illnesses such as stress, anxiety, and depression to prevent their escalation and encourage positive health-seeking behaviors (Witko, 2006). The new policies will be different from the old policies since it will not depend on whether one is insured or not. As a result, it will enable better assessment of mental health issues’ prevalence and help devise solutions to gradually improve Aboriginals’ living standards. In addition, some people with mental health issues suffer from comorbidities like chronic illnesses. Therefore, the policy will enable them to receive a diagnosis earlier and access improved services to manage other conditions.
The high incidence rates of mental disease among Aboriginal populations in Canada suggest several gaps in managing their health issues and ensuring their comfort. Although the government and healthcare shareholders have developed solutions to decrease these individuals’ suffering, their increased marginalization is an issue that erodes development. The Canadian Health Act and social welfare policies aimed at rooting out mental diseases in communities are critical for positive developments. However, Aboriginal people suffer from several other concerns that must be addressed to ensure their continuous advancement. Therefore, it is necessary to create a system where social workers can collaborate with clinicians to solve an individual’s health problems completely and offer them a chance to live a fruitful life.
Heinonen, T., & Metteri, A. (Eds.). (2005). Social Work in Health and Mental Health: Issues, Developments, and Actions. Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Witko, T. M. (2006). An introduction to First Nation’s people. Mental health care for urban Indians: Clinical insights from Native practitioners, 33-53.