People with mental illness are at an increased risk to live in poverty. Conversely, poverty can be a significant risk factor for poor physical and mental health. This two way connection between poverty and mental health make it an important priority to address.

The area of mental health remains one where the need for services has far outpaced the supply of available services. Options to access this kind of mental health care are restricted by the high cost of private mental health which makes it rarely accessible to low income individuals and families. As a result, there are often lengthy wait times. There is also insufficient preventative and treatment oriented children’s mental health services, which is problematic as this is when the greatest value would be realized.

There is good news. Research on poverty interventions has found that mental health interventions have had positive clinical and economic outcomes. We know that low-income persons need more access to prevention-orientated mental health services that take into account the challenges of poverty while promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors, better coping skills and good relationship skills. As with all of our gamechangers and the priorities, now is the time to act!


EndPovertyEdmonton priorities that directly relate to ‘Access to Mental Health Services’

#19. Improve timely access to mental health and wellness services

#27. Keep the individual at the centre in providing care, services and supports