Mental illness or addiction will affect all Nova Scotians indirectly through family members, friends or colleagues at some point in their lives.
Doctors believe that all Nova Scotians must receive timely access to appropriate mental health and addiction services. Doctors are asking candidates in this provincial election to consider recommendations on how to improve mental health and addiction services in the province.
The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Advisory Committee states the total economic costs of mental disorders have been shown to match the economic impacts of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension combined. Mental health and addictions issues are often linked.
According to the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Advisory Committee, in Nova Scotia nearly 200,000 people will experience symptoms ranging from problematic and chronic to acute and debilitating, most of which could and should be treated and relieved.
Our province, like many other jurisdictions, has suffered from disconnected but well intentioned mental health and addiction services delivery models. It can be challenging to access mental health services in the community, as well as in hospital settings.
The province’s mental health and addictions strategy makes many recommendations for improvement. Other areas to be addressed include:
- Ensure mental health and addiction services are woven into other provincial plans, such as primary care delivery and physician resource plan.
- Improved access to inpatient beds for mental health patients. While bed blocking is a problem for many specialities, currently psychiatric acute care bed availability is lower than all other inpatient care bed availability.
- Increase capacity for health-care professionals in mental health and addictions services by providing education, training, and support.
- Support the role of psychiatrists as educators. Psychiatrists educate families, family physicians, and other health professionals, as well as and provide leadership in the field of mental health and addictions services. If given additional and appropriate supports, psychiatrists can play a leading role in capacity building in communities. This in turn would improve access to care.
Family support and education, ease of access to services, and education for primary care physicians are essential elements required to improve mental health and addiction services in the province.
What can you do?
Talk to your candidates today about improving access to mental health and addiction services. Use and share the information you’ve learned here with candidates, family and friends.
Need more info? Check out our election site for our 4 positions, access to candidates and their response to our questions.