February 11th, 2020

Walk-in mental health care needed in Nova Scotia

Halifax -- The Liberal government is dropping the ball when it comes to the growing need for mental health services in Nova Scotia. Today, the Standing Committee on Health will be discussing youth mental health. The NDP is continuing to push for a system where people can get the help they need, when and where they need it. PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick all have same-day walk-in mental health services.

“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 Mental Health Walk-in Clinic in North End Halifax which provided two communities with accessible, publicly-funded mental health care had to make a public plea for funding in order to remain open. The NDP is proposing same-day/next-day clinics in communities throughout the province that would be staffed by qualified social workers.

“We know that mental health issues don’t start at the crisis point,” said Alec Stratford, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers. “We need options in the public health system so that people can see someone - a social worker, or other mental health professional - to help them deal with their mental health before it becomes mental illness.”

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.