Fixing the mental health system, for too many Canadians is a matter of life and death.
A lot has been done to help prevent and effectively treat mental illness, and for good reasons: Reducing disability payments and unnecessary medical costs and keeping employees on the job. A well-run mental-health system helps the public to save and saves the corporate dollar…but, it also saves lives!
Ultimately, is there a more critical bottom line than that?
The rates of suicide for youth, middle aged and seniors have hardly budged in the last 10 years – states a report released Thursday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Suicide is still common in certain groups of the population, such as Aboriginal Canadians. Men are more than 3 times more likely to kill themselves as women, especially for men in their 40s and 50s. – Compared with other Western countries, Canada falls in the upper middle, which is equal with Britain, slightly better than the United States, and worse than Spain and Italy.
Even with all the time, energy, and money spent into the campaigns on how to fix mental-health care and movements to address suicide, Canadians still continue to take their lives at rates which should be considered a public-health crisis. The suicide rate for youth aged 15-to-19-years-old is 9 per every 100,000; for seniors its 10 per 100,000. These statistics really raises “significant concerns,” and was identified as an urgent issue!
Canada is getting better with diagnosing mental illness, but mental-illness, mostly depression, is linked to aprox. 90 percent of suicides, and too many people go without ongoing clinical care, such as therapy, an effective treatment preferred over medication, in patient surveys, by a majority of both men and women.
“The best suicide-prevention program is a good mental-health care system,” says Alain Lesage, director of research at the Douglass Mental Health University Institute in Montreal, an associate director of the Quebec Research Network. – Suicide is top of mind for advocates such as Michael Kirby, former chair of the Mental Health Commission, who is making the case for government to ensure that there is universal access to psychotherapy for youth so that those from poor families do not linger on wait lists.
Crisis intervention is essential to deal with suicide, but it takes a long time to get access to psychiatrists, for consultation and treatment plans, making a program by the Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia worthy of national consideration.
This program based in Vancouver, has 4 full time psychiatrists who offer one on one consultations to patients referred from their family doctor. Their wait time is 4 weeks, compared to in the city a minimum of 8 months wait time
Expanding access to rapid care, after the consult, psychiatrists treat patients in follow-up groups of eight, which can be booked as needed and usually on the same day. This follow-up group helps with managing your medications, and monitoring your symptoms. The program hopes to treat 4000 patients a year. – Similar approaches are now being adopted in Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto.
Mental-health care is trying to help and target suicide and to prompt more men, for assistance and to seek help. Once in the system, most men prefer therapy which helps them to fix the problem, over the quick fix of drugs. John Ogrodniczuk, a researcher at the University of British Columbia who is about to launch a new mental-health website directed specifically at men.
School-bases mental-health literacy can target teams. Public-awareness campaigns and universal access to therapy and follow-up care could support men thinking about suicide, who often wait tool long to get help and end up in the hospitals.
Marnin Heisel, a psychiatry professor at the University of Western Ontario, points to new “zero-suicide initiatives” in the United States to help change every society will lose some people and, instead, strive to catch everyone. After all, we don’t give up on other preventable deaths so easily.
“It’s about prizing the individual sitting across from us,” Heisel says, “and making sure we do everything we can to provide the best care, that we are doing everything we can to make sure that person doesn’t die.”
Canadians need to ask themselves: What is the suicide rate we are willing to accept?