Toronto is taking significant steps to tackle the rising substance use-related harms and mental health challenges among its residents. In a newly published report, the City of Toronto has outlined a comprehensive strategy that aims to address the growing need for mental health and substance use support services in the city.
The five-year plan takes a holistic approach to provide mental health and substance use support across all age groups and communities. It includes measures to promote mental health, prevent deaths from substance use, expand access to services, ensure community safety, improve housing conditions, and create mentally healthy workplaces.
To meet the increased demand for services, the city plans to open more 24-hour respite centers that offer evidence-based services, treatment, and wrap-around supports for residents. These low-barrier crisis stabilization spaces will cater to individuals with mental health or substance use-related issues, providing accessible care when it is most needed.
Coun. Chris Moise, chair of Toronto’s Board of Health, emphasizes the importance of immediate action. While the exact cost of the project is undetermined, the city has requested funding from provincial and federal governments to make the strategy possible. Moise remains optimistic, as the lives of countless individuals depend on these vital services.
The report underlines the urgent nature of the crisis Toronto is facing. Since 2015, the city has recorded nearly 2,900 opioid-related deaths, reflecting the severity of the drug toxicity crisis exacerbated by an unregulated drug supply. Toronto EMS Chief Bikram Chawla attests to the pressing need for this strategy, as paramedics regularly respond to substance use-related emergency calls.
In addition to expanding crisis response services, the strategy seeks to enhance coordination between first responders, hospitals, and mental health service providers. By streamlining the transfer of individuals in crisis to appropriate services, the city aims to improve the overall response to mental health and substance use crises.
Toronto’s vision for a stigma-free environment in which accessible healthcare, resources, and community spaces thrive is wholeheartedly supported by Deputy Mayor Coun. Ausma Malik. The strategy will be discussed by the Toronto Board of Health, where it is anticipated to receive broad approval.
Q: What are some measures included in Toronto’s comprehensive strategy?
A: Toronto’s comprehensive strategy involves promoting mental health, preventing substance use-related deaths, improving access to services, ensuring community safety, enhancing housing conditions, and prioritizing mentally healthy workplaces.
Q: How will Toronto address the rising demand for mental health and substance use support services?
A: The city plans to open more 24-hour respite centers to provide accessible care and evidence-based services to residents with mental health or substance use-related issues.
Q: How many opioid-related deaths have occurred in Toronto since 2015?
A: Since 2015, nearly 2,900 individuals in Toronto have died as a result of opioid-related toxicity.
Q: Is the strategy fully funded?
A: The total cost of the project is currently unknown, and the city has requested funding from provincial and federal governments to support the implementation of the strategy.
Q: How will coordination between different stakeholders be improved under the strategy?
A: The strategy aims to enhance coordination between first responders, hospitals, and mental health service providers to ensure a seamless transfer of individuals in crisis to the most appropriate services.