Mental health crisis continues

October 25, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Advocate: Wait list letter could put Nova Scotians at risk

HALIFAX, NS – Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie says a letter from Mental Health and Addictions proves just how out of touch the McNeil Liberals are when it comes to mental illness.

Today, Baillie asked Premier Stephen McNeil to explain why Nova Scotians seeking mental health therapy were sent a letter asking them if they got better while waiting for help. The letter, in hopes of curbing long waiting lists, suggests that it is the government’s hope to “close a number of referrals since many people have likely improved by waiting.” (letter attached)

“This is downright disgraceful,” says Baillie. “As if waiting for help isn’t stressful enough, now the province is asking Nova Scotians to diagnose themselves. This shows just how out of touch the McNeil Liberals really are.”

Mental health advocate Laurel Walker says the government has lost sight of the fact that mental illness is a real disease.

“No one would ever ask a cancer patient or a heart disease patient to diagnose themselves and remove themselves from a treatment waiting list,” she says. “Mental illness is real and Nova Scotians dealing with mental health issues deserve more respect and care than they are getting.”

The 36-year-old Halifax resident, who has been through her own mental health crisis, has become a tireless advocate for those living with mental illness. Walker was at the House of Assembly today.

“I work very hard on my own mental health so I can hopefully help others find their own healing,” Walker said. “This letter is a scary reminder that there is so much work left to do.”

Walker says she is concerned about patients who may remove themselves from the treatment waiting list without actually receiving the proper help.

“It took a lot of courage to face the fact that I needed help, especially when I was in crisis,” she says. “It pains me to think of what can happen to someone when the system is suggesting they can get better simply waiting. This letter is irresponsible and someone is going to get hurt or even worse.”

Baillie is today calling on Premier McNeil to admit there is a crisis in mental health and develop a better plan to help Nova Scotians waiting for treatment.