February 9th, 2021

Mental health emergency teams, same-day/next-day care needed

HALIFAX - People’s mental health has suffered during the pandemic, making a difficult crisis much worse. According to Mental Health Research Canada, Nova Scotians have reported higher levels of anxiety and depression than the national average since the pandemic began. The Health Committee of the Legislature will meet later today to discuss mental health services

“Despite the clear need for more mental health supports prior to and since the pandemic, the Liberal government has failed to invest in new options for mental health care such as same-day, next day appointments or mental health emergency services,” said Leblanc. “Many people in our communities need help immediately and cannot wait for an appointment in six months.”

Nova Scotia is falling behind other provinces when it comes to the provision of mental health services. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and British Columbia have all moved toward a same-day/next-day approach for mental health services.

Police chiefs in Truro and Bridgewater have pointed out that their staff are not mental health providers and have encouraged the province to think of other options for mental health emergencies.

“When someone is having a mental health crisis, police officers are often the first to respond. In many cases, a person needs a health provider not a police officer,” said Susan Leblanc, NDP Health and Wellness spokesperson. “We need a different model for emergency mental health support and wellness checks. Establishing mental health emergency response teams, integrated into Nova Scotia’s first responder system, could ensure people in crisis get the support they need.”

In September, 2018, the NDP Caucus introduced legislation to establish a Mental Health Bill of Rights, which would provide funding for mental health treatment that meets or exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum of 10 per cent of total health care expenditures by 2025. The Liberal government has refused to consider this proposal.