The Globe and Mail reports that the government says Canadians who are suffering from severe depression can ask for one to help them get through their depression and cope with anxiety.
The government is launching a pilot project to see how the new pilot can help.
A recent survey found that 70 per cent of Canadians have a doctor or nurse who is aware of depression and who is able to prescribe a prescription for antidepressants, which are prescribed by prescription.
The pilot will be used to assess whether a prescription can be made from a doctor who knows about depression and how much the prescription costs.
“This pilot will allow the Government of Canada to better target the prescription of antidepressants in our population and provide a much needed tool to help people cope with their depression,” said Minister of Health Peter Penashue.
Health Minister Rona Ambrose said the pilot project will help address the growing number of Canadians who struggle with depression and anxiety.
“For many Canadians, the mental health challenges they are experiencing have led to a heightened need for medication,” she said.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) says it is aware that the pilot is new and that it is premature to conclude that it will reduce the number of people who are prescribed medication.
“The CMAH continues to support the government’s efforts to address the high rates of mental illness and anxiety in our society,” said CMAHA spokesperson Anne-Marie Durette.
The CMA is calling for an urgent review of the pilot.
“It is vital that Canadians receive the medications they need, including for the medications used to treat depression and post-traumatic stress,” Durelts said.
“Our society’s mental health issues are real and they affect every one of us.”
The pilot is part of a wider national strategy called “Stop the Panic,” to increase access to antidepressants and related treatments in Canada.
The federal government says there are more than 100,000 people taking part in the pilot, with about 8,000 prescriptions to date.
Health Canada is now conducting a review of all of its prescriptions.