The Mental Health Commission of Canada: the first five years


This paper aims to examine the progress of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) over the first five years of its existence toward stated goals while existing outside the constitutional framework of health care funding. Design/methodology/approach:
The paper is a review of the outputs of the MHCC with emphasis on its first-ever mental health strategy for Canada, knowledge exchange network, anti-stigma initiatives, randomized controlled trial of housing-first initiatives for the homeless mentally ill, as well as other completed projects. 


Consultation and collaboration are essential aspects of working successfully with people with lived experience of mental illness, their families, health professionals, and governments. At the same time, when expectations are high, needs are great, and opinions are varied, disappointment and frustration are inevitable. 

Research limitations/implications: 

Although the MHCC initiatives include the largest single funded research project in mental health in Canadian history, and evaluation is built into other initiatives, the political dimension of its work does not lend itself to research evaluation. 

Practical implications: 

The creation of an organization outside the constitutional framework of health care funding may allow for a catalytic role in precipitating change. Social implications – The emphasis on anti-stigma campaigns targeted at defined populations (youth, health professionals, workforce, journalists) may combat the discrimination people with mental illnesses and their families experience.


The paper shows that the Canadian experience is, to date, largely undescribed in the peer-reviewed literature and may influence other jurisdictions. One of its interventions is already being replicated internationally
Publication Date: 
Journal Name: 
Mental Health Review Journal