It is #BellLetsTalk day, a once a year event where Bell donates 5 cents for every text, call, tweet, Instagram, and use of snapchat GeoFilter to mental health initiatives. It is a wonderful day that generates an enormous amount of social media chatter and raises millions of dollars for a very underfunded part of our healthcare system, while simultaneously reducing stigma.
Stigma is only one part of the problem people with mental health issues face. The larger and more difficult problem to face is access to care. Unfortunately, at least in this province, the wait times to access a professional in the public system are astronomical.
This chart was accessed through the NS government website and displays the maximum wait time 90% of patients waited to access Mental Health Adult Community-Based Services (Data period: July 1- September 30 2016). According to the website: “Wait times are measured from the time the referral is received by the clinical service to the date the patient has their first Choice appointment with a clinician. Wait times do not include patients who choose to wait longer.” Feel free to access this information at: https://waittimes.novascotia.ca/procedure/mental-health-adult-community-based-services#waittimes-90
To help understand what the numbers mean: The shortest timeframe: 90% of patients accessing care at the Inverness Consolidated Hospital had their first appointment within 39 days of the service being requested. The longest timeframe: 90% of patients accessing care at the Cape Breton Regional had their appointment within 325 days of the service being requested.
Can you imagine deciding to seek help, only to be told it may take up to 325 days to be seen? This is incredibly frustrating for those seeking help, as well as those incredible people who are dedicated to providing help.
My intention is not for this information to create a negative backlash towards our healthcare system. My intention is to draw attention to, and generate a conversation surrounding, the challenges that currently face our mental health care system and those accessing care, and why #BellLetsTalk is so important for generating desperately needed funds.