BEYOND LOCAL: Canadians split up to cover mental health services across the province, the survey says


In the third part of a Global News series that explores the Canadian health system, we look at the financial burden that many Canadian families are carrying to ensure their children receive the psychological assistance they need.

51% of Canadians believe that mental health services should be covered for those without their own insurance, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos for Global News.

However, only 7% of those who do not have medical insurance coverage are paying out-of-pocket for mental health services, spending on average around $ 530 a year.

When Michele Sparling's son fell ill, he says his family was forced to spend much more. His son was only seven when he started to show signs of anxiety and depression.

"The happy and lucky child that we saw in the beginning of the year started to change and he really started trying to avoid going to school. He was also very worried about what was happening to me," he said. Sparling from his home in Dartmouth, NS

The family sought the help of a child psychiatrist and a school counselor, but within a few years things got worse.

"For grade 5, going to school became a problem, being in class, participating in sports teams. The anxiety was really increasing, and the sadness began to become overwhelming," he said.

Faced with long waiting times within the public health system, the Sparling family started paying out of their own pockets for private care. Sparling remembers paying $ 175 a session with a child psychologist, every other week in the beginning, but as her child's illness became more severe, the costs increased. Over the course of six years, Sparling says his son requested more than $ 30,000 in counseling and other support.

"We were lucky because we were able to afford it, but this is what led me to be a lawyer. I'm thinking," How can people do? "Children suffer, children are at risk and die because families can't afford it, "Sparling said.

Access to care varies across the country

When it comes to mental health care in Canada, the amount of support available can vary widely depending on where you live. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, families often face situations where services are not funded by provincial health plans or are only available after a long wait.

"The problem is that we don't have real data at the national level, so I can't say in general what (waiting times are) … but it varies from six to 12 to 18 months in some communities," said Fardous Hosseiny, director National Research and Public Policy for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Part of the problem, says Hosseiny, is that funding for many mental health specialists is not covered by provincial health systems.

"We have psychologists, peer support workers, we have social workers, we have addiction counselors, but they have been relegated to the sidelines in this country because they are not part of the publicly funded system," explained Hosseiny.

As a result, Hosseiny says that many patients end up in crisis in the emergency departments of the hospital. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the number of children and young people visiting emergency departments for mental health problems has increased by 75% since 2006.

During a mental health crisis, Jeff Warner says his son spent several days in a Toronto emergency room because there were no other assistance options available.

"He spent a week in the emergency room waiting for specialist mental health care in Toronto. There was no place to go – all the beds had been booked and all the seats were full", he said. said Warner.

Still, Warner considers his family lucky. Much of the care your child requires for his complex mental health needs has been covered by the Ontario Department of Child Services and Youth and other forms of support. Without that funding, the Guelph, Ont., Father believes that his son would not survive.

"(My wife) and I are fully aware that we probably wouldn't have it with us anymore, which is very likely that in one of his crises, he would have succeeded in a suicide attempt or we should have broken our family," Warner said .

"The other parents do not have access to the same media, they do not have assistance plans for employees, they do not have advice, they do not have insurance. There are certainly huge gaps."

– Global news

In the third part of a Global News series that explores the Canadian health system, we look at the financial burden that many Canadian families are carrying to ensure their children receive the psychological assistance they need.


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