Inadequate Mental Health Supports In Rural And Northern Ontario Communities

Endoresed in:

May, 2021

Paper Type:

Position Paper


  • Anchaleena Mandal (Queen’s University)
  • Madison Burella (Northern Ontario School of Medicine)



When compared to the rest of Ontario, individuals living in rural and Northern Ontario report poorer mental health than those living in urban communities in the province. Northern Ontarians self-report higher rates of depression. There is also higher use of prescription medications in Northern Ontario than in urban communities, particularly sleep aids, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. Furthermore, Northern Ontario has approximately twice the hospitalization rate for mental health concerns compared to the rest of Ontario, especially for suicide-related hospitalizations. Compared to urban areas, residents in rural and Northern areas are also in greater need of psychotherapy and counselling. The fragmented mental health system in rural and Northern communities significantly differs from the mental health services readily available in urban communities and is a contributing factor to these concerning statistics. This especially affects the Indigenous peoples who comprise approximately 2.8% of Northern Ontario’s population. Indigenous peoples in these communities face many challenges, including inequitable access to health care and residential school trauma that influences overall mental health and wellbeing.