Increasing numbers of British Columbians are struggling with their mental health and we need to treat it like any other health issue by properly resourcing it in our public system.
Mental health care is failing at all levels, from early intervention for children and youth through to tertiary care for adults with complex psychological problems. The uncertainty and instability around the pandemic is placing increased psychological strain on us all. On top of that, young people are also facing compounding crises of climate change and affordability. Young people are the emerging leaders of our province and they should feel hopeful and excited about their future.
We must act quickly and decisively to protect our mental health as we did our physical health. This begins by increasing accessibility to mental health services. Data clearly shows that lack of access to mental healthcare is most pronounced in those with lower incomes, fewer years of education, as well as among vulnerable and minority groups.
We must also remind ourselves that the lack of mental health options for the majority of the population led to many problems even before COVID-19. If we are serious about building back better as a province then increasing the accessibility and affordability of mental health services needs to be a priority going forward.
This lack of access has led to our medical system becoming the de facto provider for those with mental health concerns. However, this system does not have the capacity to appropriately treat these individuals, leading them to over-utilize the medical health system because their mental health needs are not being treated.
For many patients, even just a few appointments with a mental health professional can significantly improve mental and physical health. We need to invest in mental health services at every stage of British Columbians’ lives so that they can be supported to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
The BC Greens' plan for Mental health and wellbeing
Allocate $1.0 billion over a four-year cycle to address mental health care within the medical services plan.
Funding should be provided for a comprehensive suite of initiatives including:
- Establishing accessible mental health treatment options for all those struggling with anxiety or depression.
- Early intervention, youth mental health initiatives, integrated primary care specific to youth and mental health enabling families to easily navigate resources in a supportive environment.
- Community based options for responding to those who need mental healthcare and their families such as Clubhouse International.
- Enhanced counselling outreach services to work with the homeless community.
- Invest in facilities to provide mental healthcare services and community-based centres for mental health and rehabilitation.
- Accelerate capital plans for the construction of tertiary care facilities and detoxification beds.
- Protect operating funding for facilities.