This is Mental Health Week in Canada, which culminates in World Mental Health Day on Saturday October 10th. Green Party Leader and Fredericton South MLA David Coon is calling on the Higgs government to rapidly implement its campaign commitment to opening walk-in mental health clinics around the province and take further steps to improve our mental health care system.
“It is shocking that less than five percent of our health care budget is devoted to treating mental illness,” said Coon. “In addition to establishing walk-in mental health clinics, sufficient funding must be provided to transform our Mental Health Mobile Crisis Teams into 24/7 first responders, and to cover the costs of psychotherapy through Medicare.”
The regional health authorities operate mental health mobile crisis teams in the province, but their hours of operation and geographic reach are limited by their funding, leaving police to respond to mental health calls, for which they have no training. Coon says that the mental health mobile crisis teams must be funded to serve as a new class of first responders so they there will be trained mental health professionals responding to mental health or “wellness” calls, around the clock, rather than police.
Medicare does not pay for psychotherapy, leaving many with mental illness untreated.
“If you need chemotherapy to treat cancer, or physiotherapy to treat an injury, Medicare pays the bill. If you need psychotherapy to treat your mental illness, you pay the bill, and that is indefensible,” said Coon.
Coon says that walk-in clinics to reduce the insufferable wait times for mental health care, mental health first-responders, and the pubic funding of psychotherapy would go along away to improving mental health care in New Brunswick.