Mentally exhausted with mental health strategies

This post is in no way, shape or form intended to minimize the efforts of the province, nor the professionals trying to combat the ever-growing rise of mental illness here in Nova Scotia. In saying these last words, I wonder if the mental illness crisis (as it is seen) isn’t actually the recognition of an ever present problem that we can just no longer ignore.

I am overjoyed to see that our province has initiated a budget and strategy to rescue those children suffering from sometimes debilitating mental illness while they are still young. I suppose that the province can either fork out the finances to combat the early stages of mental illness in our children now as opposed to waiting until the illness has completely destroyed their lives, making thousands of them dependent on financial assistance later.

I am hopeful to see the benefits of these implementations sooner than later, though, benefits that look something like this:

  • Continue to fund Nova Scotia’s first ever mental health and addictions strategy, Together We Can — $2.5 million
  • Help children and adolescents get the services they need, faster, by funding mental health clinicians in more schools — $1.4 million
  • Give all Nova Scotians 24/7 access to mental health crisis intervention via the Mental Health Crisis Line — $114,000
  • Develop standards — $1 million
  • Co-locate childrens’ mental health residential and daytime services

My daughter’s psychiatrist made a call to the IWK, our local childrens’ hospital (3 hours away) in hopes of having her registered for an in-depth 2-3 week program to teach her coping skills to help reduce her anxiety. Unfortunately, the program was full. How disappointing!

I phoned N.S.’s former health minister for some advice on the matter and was told to drive to the IWK, as it is law that all children admitted through the emergency department must be fully assessed. We did just that and our daughter was assessed as an urgent case. A further resident and senior psychiatrist agreed with the rating. Yay! (I wasn’t crazy after all!)

After having a full-blown, hourlong panic attack the following day (that ended with vomiting in front of Wal-Mart) and a visit to a psychologist the following week, we were given 3 options to choose from. Two out of the three options consisted of travellng 3 hours to and from Halifax for one day a week for 10 weeks in a row for a few hours (yes, hours) worth of therapy. The third option was therapy by telephone! (?)

My daughter was so disappointed, as was I. After speaking with my husband and consulting her psychiatrist, we agreed to travel all the way to Halifax for weeks … Anything to make her feel better. I contacted the psychologist in charge of referring her to this program only to learn that it begins in September 2013! We were advised to pay for counselling to “get” her through the summer.

We have been combating my daughter’s mental health issues for 7 years now, since she was 5 years old. This help can’t come soon enough.

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