Mental Health Monday: Integrating mental health into B.C.'s public health-care system

Monday May 4, marks the start of the Canadian Mental Health Association‘s Mental Health Week.

It’s a popular week for a variety of education campaigns, activities and events across the country focusing on mental health, mental illness and addiction.

To coincide with the kickoff, CMHA has released the third round of results from a joint research study with the University of British Columbia.

“It shows that 77 per cent of Canadians are experiencing negative emotions due to the pandemic,” said Jessica Samuels, Associate Director of Community Engagement at CMHA Kelowna.

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‘More than 40 per cent are reporting a decline in their overall mental health,” Samuels added.

Those are just some of the reasons that there is a movement underway to convince the current B.C. government to it integrate mental health into the public healthcare system.
“I would love to see Minister Dix and the rest of the government approve registered psychologists to be eligible providers under the medical services plan,” Dr. Lesley Lutes told Global News.
Lutes is a registered psychologist who has spent the last 40 days spearheading the ‘Therapy is Medicine, Too:‘ campaign.

The British Columbia Psychological Association‘s proposal would provide up to six paid sessions with a registered psychologist as a starting point, for those suffering from mental health issues.
“A study done here in B.C. in the last few years, showed in under three visits with a registered psychologist on average for 30 minutes, patients showed a significant decline in depression, anxiety, decreased suicidality,” Lutes explained.

“And even more significantly decreased healthcare utilization across the board for the next six months because they were feeling better,”  Lutes added.
“Last summer, in the summer session that we had before the election, we actually proposed this in the B.C. legislature,” said B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau.

Since that time, Furstenau says her party has been advocating for the idea non-stop.

“We know that the pandemic is creating a shadow pandemic of mental health related issues,” Furstenau said.

“We also know that those are going to impact people with the least ability to able to spend pay money to seek mental health care,”

The good news is that according to Lutes, the provincial government seems to be listening to the ideas being put forward the British Columbia Psychologist Association.

“A representative from Minister’s office contacted me and said that they are interested in sitting down with us a BCPA to problem solve this issue,” Lutes said.

Lutes hopes the ‘Therapy is Medicine, Too:” proposal will become reality sooner rather than later to help deal with the looming mental health crisis brought on by the pandemic. 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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