Mental Illness And Neurological Conditions Coexisting
Education and Advocacy What we've learned about the connections between these conditions.
In September 2014, the Government of Canada and Neurological Health Charities Canada released Mapping Connections: An Understanding of Neurological Conditions in Canada. A critical part of the report focused on the experience of mental health challenges faced by Canadians diagnosed with a neurological condition.
The report found that Canadian adults with a neurological condition experience mood and anxiety disorders at a rate two and a half times higher than the general population. It was also found that not only do they have a higher likelihood of experiencing a mental health disorder, but the severity of the condition is also significantly higher.
The report finds that although there are higher mental health needs in Canadians with neurological conditions, access to adequate services can be challenging.
It is not only the person with a neurological condition who is at a higher risk of experiencing a mental health disorder — it is their caregivers as well. From a sample of parents caring for their children with a neurological condition, a third of the parents interviewed had accessed mental health assistance. For caregivers of Canadians with neurological conditions where cognitive impairment is present — like Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias, and Huntington’s disease — caregiver distress more than doubles.
The report finds that although there are higher mental health needs in Canadians with neurological conditions, access to adequate services can be challenging. Nearly a third of publically funded acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community outpatient centres from across Canada indicated that they did not accept individuals with psychiatric or severe behavioural disorders. Furthermore, less than 10 percent had access to a neuropsychologist and only 3 percent had access to a neuropsychiatrist.