United Way leads community research to better understand mental health services available to Peel residents

MISSISSAUGA (January 22, 2014) – Today, United Way of Peel Region released the results of a community research project – Mapping the Mental Health System in Peel Region: Challenges and Opportunities– to better understand the mental health services available to the residents of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

One in five people in Canada will experience diagnosable mental health problems or illnesses in their lifetime; in Peel that represents 259,362 residents. Mental illness affects people of all socio-economic backgrounds. In many circumstances, people with mental illness often live in chronic poverty, and poverty can be a significant risk factor for poor physical and mental health.

Key Report Highlights
Key highlights from the report identify:

  • Very few services in Caledon, a predominantly rural area of Peel that is quickly evolving into populated suburbs;
  • Brampton and Mississauga, the urban centres of Peel, are also lacking services that are proportionally necessary to meet the needs of a large and growing population;
  • Wait lists for services are very long – a year or more, and in some cases services are just not available in the Region;
  • There are serious gaps in the system in providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services;
  • Language barriers, cultural insensitivity and feelings of shame (stigma) often prevent individuals from reaching out for support.

The Recommendations
The report presents 25 recommendations to improve different aspects of the local system to make it easier for people to navigate and access mental health services in Peel. It includes a call to action for governments, health- and social-service providers, and other stakeholders to continue to work together to stimulate broader, multi-sectoral dialogue, coordination and greater investment of resources in Peel Region.The project committee is reviewing the recommendations and prioritizing them to create a strategy for region-wide improvements to the mental health system.

United Way’s Role in this Issue
We know that mental health status is a key consideration in influencing and changing the health condition of an entire community. United Way of Peel Region’s investment strategy identifies mental health as a priority.

  1. Continue to invest in supports and services where people naturally congregate, and to improve access by ensuring cultural and linguistic competence;
  2. Build the capacity of family and neighbourhood service organizations to meet the mental health needs of the people they serve, by advocating for fair funding and innovative collaborations with mental health organizations.

*Advisory Committee Partners

  • Canadian Mental Health Association, Peel Branch
  • Catholic Crosscultural Services
  • Central West Local Health Integration Network
  • Department of Foreign Policy and Global Health, World Health Organization
  • Dr. Colin Saldanha, Saldanha Health Centre
  • Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration / Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
  • Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network
  • Peel Newcomer Strategy Group
  • Region of Peel
  • Trillium Health Partners
  • United Way of Peel Region

“United Way of Peel Region invests donor dollars in the people experiencing poverty and those vulnerable of falling into poverty in order to improve lives and build a better community. We are focused on improving local access to mental health services through our advocacy work and reducing the stigma around mental illness, particularly in the diverse communities that make up almost half of our Peel population. By working together with community partners, government and businesses, we will strengthen Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon a little bit more every day.”
~ Shelley White, President and CEO, United Way of Peel Region

“Canadian Mental Health Association/Peel Branch was pleased to sit on the advisory committee and work with United Way and Community Partners in the development of this report. It highlights comprehensively for the first time in many years, the system gaps and barriers within Peel for those who experience mental illness and addictions. This report provides us with a blueprint to move forward from. While additional resources will assist in addressing the gaps, better cultural understanding and coordination between services will also have great impact. CMHA/Peel believes that by collectively reviewing and implementing the recommendations in this report as a community, we can actively work towards CMHA's vision of 'Mentally healthy people in a healthy society'.”
~ Sandy Milakovic, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association / Peel

"I want to commend United Way of Peel Region for their leadership in convening an Advisory Committee on Mental Health. This is an important issue in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon and is deserving of appropriate attention and investment of financial and human resources. Too often task forces and reports have emerged in the past on this issue with less than desirable action or results. In keeping with its grassroots culture and commitment to positive social change within the community, United Way’s task force has provided sound recommendations, a sense of urgency around action and has put the spotlight, once again, on a very important medical issue which has huge social and economic implications. It is clear the time for action has come and we need the support of all stakeholders to step up and address this important issue in a consistent and sincere manner."
~ Dr. Colin Saldanha, Saldanha Health Centre

To read the executive summary and full report visit

For interviews or more information please contact:
Doris Mohrhardt
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416-420-9975 (mobile)