Today is Bell’s Let’s Talk day campaign, where they donate a bunch of money to mental health initiatives.
The funding helps but is no where close to enough. On average our province spends around 7 per cent of it’s health care dollars on mental health. The national average is 7.2 per cent.
As a patient in the system, I cannot complain about the treatment I have received once I got myself into the system. However, the process of accessing the system needs to change. Months long waiting lists for a referral to a psychiatrist, and overworked and undertrained therapists at the local level further compound the issue.
Even getting admitted to hospital isn’t a sure bet to get you into the system. I had several admissions behind me before the doctors looked deeper into my history and realised the extent of the problem.
In our region we have a world class mental health centre an hour and a half down the road. It is supposed to have a process where you can self-refer if you are struggling. I’ve attempted to go down that road, as have others I’ve known, to no avail. They consistently have no voluntary admission beds, as they are approaching capacity and any beds left are needed for urgent cases.
It’s only when things deteriorate to the point where I am no longer safe and I show up in the emergency room that I get certified and sent in to get my meds looked at and the help I need.
At the end of the day, I do get the help when needed, so I can’t complain. The problem is the process. To get adequate therapy treatment I have had to go to a private psychologist. My psychiatrist informed my doctor after my last admission that she would no longer see me. No reason was given.
Where it comes to mental health, Alberta is one of the best provinces in which to get treatment. The frontline staff do their best under the circumstances they are given. They make the most of their healthcare dollars. The issue is, there needs to be more.
More frontline staff. More psychiatrists to cut down on the waiting lists. More beds for people who are struggling. Earlier intervention is needed for those who are just starting the process. I shouldn’t have needed to be half a dozen admissions in before eventually getting my foot in the door.
The awareness around mental illness is ever increasing. It is less a problem best discussed in whispers as in past generations, but more a modern day health epidemic.
Bell’s yearly campaign is a good way to start a conversation that needs to be carried all year round. The education is out there. Despite some holdout attitudes, the stigma is decreasing. Now, let’s talk about funding it to the point it ceases to be an issue.