Neoliberalism and Mental Health Care in Ontario: A Critique of Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
In this paper, I offer a critical analysis of Ontario’s mental health strategy, “Roadmap to Wellness,” and the government’s investment in internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) programs as a frontline strategy to address the province’s mental health crisis. Though I acknowledge that publicly funded mental health care is a step in the right direction, I argue that the choice to provide cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as the only form of publicly funded therapy indicates a problematic commitment to the maintenance of neoliberal governance. To argue this point, I use discourse analysis to explore the language present in Ontario’s two current iCBT programs – AbilitiCBT and Mindbeacon – and demonstrate the ways in which they reinforce a neoliberal discourse of mental health by emphasizing the values of 1) individual responsibility, 2) productivity, and 3) recovery. More broadly, I argue that neoliberal forms of governance ultimately produce the mental health crises that they seek to address through neglecting the social determinants of health and defunding of social services and assert that critiques of mental health care must address the socioeconomic conditions within which they are implemented, given the intimate relationship between neoliberalism, managerialism, and public policy.
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