Major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder are among the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses in Canada. People with major depressive disorder experience sadness and loss of interest or pleasure in activities they once found rewarding. People with generalized anxiety disorder experience persistent, excessive, and difficult-to-control worry. It is not uncommon for someone with major depressive disorder to also suffer from generalized anxiety disorder or vice versa.
Three common psychological treatments for major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in Ontario are cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, and supportive therapy. They are also known as psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” and can be provided by physicians or regulated nonphysicians such as a psychotherapists or psychologists, and can be delivered in individual or group settings.
In Canada, approximately 11% of the population will have major depressive disorder at some point in their life, and 6% will have generalized anxiety disorder. Compared with usual care (for example, drug therapy), treatment with psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” represents good value for money.
The most affordable option is group psychotherapy provided by regulated nonphysicians, with individual psychotherapy made available where group psychotherapy is not possible or inappropriate. Public funding for structured psychotherapy may result in extra spending of $11 million to $529 million per year for the next 5 years, depending on the type of treatment (group vs. individual), type of provider (nonphysician vs. physician), and the number of patients who are treated.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is currently reviewing this recommendation.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: The Ministry has a standardized process in place to review Health Quality Ontario recommendations. This takes into consideration Ministry priorities, implementation options, the need for consultation with impacted stakeholders, and funding considerations.