Fredericton — With society’s continuing de-stigmatization of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, the Government of New Brunswick is finally coming out and saying that mental health treatment is now more important — and less accessible — than ever.
“Because of traumatic events and other triggers such as poverty and unemployment, we know that our people are suffering more than ever before — that’s why it’s so important to seek help if you need it,” said health minister Benoît Bourque at a press conference Wednesday morning.
“Unfortunately, mental health professionals are in extremely high demand, which means your options are severely limited. You could spend a frustrating afternoon calling every psychologist in town and trying in vain to get on a wait-list, or you could go to that downtown clinic where some social worker might give you a sample of anti-depressants…and that’s pretty much it.
“BUT no matter how bad it seems, remember that you are not alone in this! Medicare doesn’t cover anyone’s counselling costs.”
“Oh yes, we can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to seek help in today’s trying times,” said psychologist Kristy Stapleford. “My patented techniques can train patients not to think about the fact that this one-hour slot took a year to book and will run them $200 better spent on groceries because their insurance ran out after two sessions.”
Local woman Shelly Urquart said she went through a “Kafkaesque” labyrinth of phone calls and doctor appointments and referrals and dead-end emails before finally landing an appointment with a real counsellor, who ended up just recommending she spend even more money on “self-care” workbooks and “mindfulness” apps.
“Just to get the appointment I had to say I was thinking about harming myself,” she admitted. “Not my proudest moment, but if you don’t say those words, no one will care or take you seriously. It’s just the way it is in New Brunswick.
“In the end, I got more help from a Facebook post by a friend that said ‘Cheer up — it could be worse’ with a cute picture of a cat. I mean it made me feel good for a second and cost nothing, so all in all it was better than therapy.”
The province’s health-care system is notoriously clogged and inefficient, and family doctors don’t have time to treat patients’ physical, let alone mental health.
“The lack of adequate support systems cause people to feel like they’re ‘falling through the cracks,’ so now more than ever before, you need to ask for the help you need,” said Bourque. “No, we won’t provide it in any tangible way, and the quest for treatment will leave you more depressed and anxious than before you began, but it’s still important to try.”