Mental health is not optional
The mom and dad who are desperate to find a psychiatrist to help their son. The sibling who is trying to find his or her brother, despite him being street-entrenched. The spouse trying to help his or her significant other find help while trying to keep the family together and just survive. The business trying to keep its employees mentally healthy and invest thousands into programs.
Never before have we, as British Columbians, had such a large of an issue with mental health. Simply put, it is everywhere.
Yes, we had problems before, but the pandemic threw accelerant onto the issue and it is now a raging fire.
Dr. Lesley Lutes has written a number of articles about the mental health “tsunami” after the pandemic and how prolific the effects will be. Her voice and others have been sounding the alarm bell, making a case for why B.C. needs to add psychological supports to our health system.
Additionally, the effects of the pandemic are exacerbated on the elderly, who were left isolated and alone during this difficult time. Our young adults also suffered horrifically, with more than two-thirds having developed symptoms of depression and anxiety during the pandemic. Where is the help for our seniors and our youth?
If mental health issues were a river, we have half of our population floating down its current.
Despite trying to pull people out of the river, we have yet to address why people got into it in the first place, and how we can help them comprehensively.
We all know of the issues. In our families, in our communities and in our streets, we see the effects of this mental health tsunami. We are desperate for a solution because we are doing isn’t working.
We don’t have enough supports in our communities. Parents and families cannot find support, we don’t have enough health care professionals, the support isn’t integrated with other disciplines, rehab and treatment aren’t available immediately and there are not enough community supports like psychologists and counsellors.
British Columbia needs so much more than what is being offered today. We need help, before it’s too late.
We know the stories, the stories about the ones who didn’t make it, of those who attempted to self-medicate their minds from the torture they lived in and went one dose too far.
Those people were our husbands, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, or our neighbours or family members.
There is hope, however, but we need the political will to do it. We need to overhaul the entire system and bring a complex care campus to Kelowna.
Complex-care addresses the needs of people who have overlapping mental-health challenges and substance-use issues. We need to have more treatment than punishment, and more supports offered before anyone requires the treatment. We need to have mental health offered to all as part of the healthcare system, and start treating people holistically.
I know many people who won’t, or can’t, seek mental health care because of the cost and by the time one is able to see a psychiatrist, it might be too late. The government is throwing a lot of money at these issues, but there hasn’t been any marked difference in the outcomes.
My question to you this week:
Do you believe that all mental health supports should be covered by our health care system?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Please email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call 250-712-3620