Once unspoken, hidden away in back rooms and stigmatized, mental health is at long last emerging into the light, and being recognized as a health issue, like any other.1, 4 In the past, many people with a mental illness suffered in silence,2,3 isolated, and unable or unwilling to seek the help they needed. But it’s a new day for mental illness. Celebrities, corporations and advocates are stepping up, stepping out and talking about it. The push to destigmatize mental illness is officially on. And it’s been a long time coming.

One in five Canadians will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their life,3 and all but the most severe instances of mental illness can be successfully treated.4

What exactly is mental illness?

Mental illness is any condition that causes distress, mental or emotional dysfunction and behavioural issues that result in suffering, pain, sadness, or in extreme cases, the death of a person.5

Examples of mental illnesses are anxiety, depression, eating disorders, personality disorders, alcohol and drug addiction, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and suicidal thoughts or behaviour.5

Like any health issue, treatment is available.

The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that almost half of people who experience depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about it.6 But treatment for almost every known mental health condition is available. While government health insurance plans may not cover everything, individual insurance like CAA Health & Dental plans can help, so that people receive the type and amount of care that’s right for them.

The true cost of mental illness.

There are the obvious medical costs associated with treating mental illness. But the highest cost may be the effect it has on people’s quality of life and that of their families. If left untreated, mental illness can cause withdrawal from family, daily activities and social life. It can damage or destroy marriages, affect a person’s ability to hold down a job, and affect interpersonal relationships.

It can affect your physical well-being by causing you to avoid exercise, make you more likely to engage in high-risk activities like drug and substance abuse, and impair judgement.7, 8

Alcohol and drug abuse are surprisingly common disorders affecting approximately 6 million Canadians according to Statistics Canada.8

Is mental health care in your family’s ‘medicine chest’?

Today, prescribed medications and counselling are the first lines of defence in treating mental illness. CAA Health & Dental Insurance plans can help cover the cost of treatment. Plans offer a mental health benefit to help cover the cost of registered professionals including psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, drug and alcohol counsellors and more. All plans come with the Healthcare Online app, which connects you instantly via text or chat with Canadian medical professionals specializing in Mental Wellness. Plans are customizable and could help save you hundreds of dollars a year, helping to ensure your loved ones get the care they need. It really does pay to be prepared with CAA.

Eye-opening facts:

  • Mental illness affects 1 in 5 Canadians in their lifetime
  • 70% of mental illnesses first appear in childhood or adolescence
  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, education levels, incomes and cultures
  • 8% of adults will experience major depression during their lives
  • 5% of Canadians experience anxiety
  • 10-20% of Canadian youths suffer from mental illness
  • Only 1 in 5 youths receive treatment for it


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