February 11th, 2020

Mental health services seriously lacking in Cape Breton

New Waterford -- The Liberal government is dropping the ball when it comes to improving mental health services in Cape Breton. Today, the legislature’s Standing Committee on Health will be discussing youth mental health. Cape Breton, and in particular the CBRM, have the longest wait times for mental health and addictions services for children and youth.

“We don’t have a province-wide plan for mental health, which means families in Cape Breton are waiting weeks or months to access mental health care they need today,” said Kendra Coombes, NDP candidate for Cape Breton Centre. “We have a serious lack of psychiatrists in CBRM and the McNeil Liberals aren’t doing anything to fix it. People in Cape Breton deserve the same health care as everyone else.”

PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick all have same-day walk-in mental health services. The NDP is proposing same-day/next-day clinics in communities throughout the province that would be staffed by qualified mental health professionals.

“It wouldn’t be okay to have to wait weeks or months if there was a serious issue with your heart, so why is it acceptable for people to wait that long for access to mental health care?” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “Right now, we have a two-tiered mental health system. If you have money or private insurance, you can get care immediately, but if you don’t, you wait.”

The NDP’s Mental Health Bill of Rights would require the government to spend 10 per cent of the health care budget on mental health. We currently only spend four per cent. Nova Scotians report one of the highest lifetime prevalence rates of mental health disorders in Canada -- 41.7 per cent here compared to 33.1 per cent nationally.