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Canadian Mental Health Care

Posted Jul 02 2009 4:34pm

In this blog, I have frequently discussed the merits of Canadian and American health care systems (see Health Care Grudge Match ).  One thing most people can agree with is that mental health care is subpar in both countries.  

The Vancouver Sun reports of a man committing suicide by jumping off the Granville Street Bridge.  
[In British Columbia]…family members of persons with severe mental health problems complain about the difficulty of getting loved ones committed. They cite restrictive confidentiality rules that isolate the family member in need, or the difficulty of getting doctors to agree to a commital or the system’s unwillingness to commit a patient until it is too late.

“In the 20-month period from December, 2006 through to Mr. Kwapiszewski’s suicide in 2008, Ms. Haboosheh — either directly or through her husband, Mr. Kwapiszewski’s GP, a lawyer, and a North Shore mental health worker — contacted Vancouver mental health services 16 times, desperately trying to get them to intervene as her brother showed more and more troubling behavioural symptoms. Three letters were also filed as part of, or in conjunction with, those contacts, and some meetings were also involved. Ms. Haboosheh also called the Vancouver Police Department on three different occasions to report him missing. Of the 16 calls and other contacts, 10 were with Mental Health Emergency Services and six with the Midtown Mental Health Team. They consistently, however, declined to commit Mr. Kwapiszewski for treatment, insisting he was non-committable. There was no mistaking his deterioration, however.”

There are fewer quantitative tests associated with mental health evaluations.  Also, there is also more of a stigma associated with mental compared to physician illness.  For both of these reasons, mental health problems too frequently take a back seat to physical health illnesses.

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