A Moncton mother wants drastic changes to how people access mental health support in New Brunswick after her son took his own life.
Kerri Matthews wants to know the province’s plans to deal with the long wait times to access mental health support counselling.
Matthews says she has been gripped with grief and post-traumatic stress since her 19-year-old son Kingsley Matthews took his own life last June.
“My son went into my basement and hung himself,” said Matthews.
She says her son, who suffered from mental illness and drug addiction, was struggling to get access to mental health support.
After several trips back and forth to hospitals in Moncton, her son was put on a waiting list to get counselling through mental health services.
“I felt hopeless and helpless, devastated he is looking at me — ‘Mom, like I need help,'” she said.
But help never came.
Six months later, and grief-stricken after the death of his grandfather, Kingsley took his own life
“He already felt worthless and hopeless, and then to go to a place where you are supposed to get help, and to be treated like you are worthless,” she said.
On Monday, the province announced an Enhanced Action Plan on Addictions and Mental Health, saying it would take a proactive approach to improving mental health services in the province.
But Green Party Leader David Coon says the family-plan actions on mental health do not deal with what he calls “unbelievably long waiting times,” to access counselling and psychiatric care. “It is devastating for people seeking help to learn there is none for months to a year … and this places patient-safety at risk, which is even more concerning in light of New Brunswick’s very high suicide rates.”
“Our government has been working on different initiatives that will help to improve wait times in the province such as the network of excellence for children and youth, the integrated service delivery approach in schools, the Flexible and Assertive Community Treatment Teams (FACT) in community, and the implementation of the Supervised Community Care,” wrote New Brunswick Minister of Health Victor Boudreau in a statement to Global News. “The implementation of these initiatives in our province will reduce wait times, enhance an individual’s response to recovery, and provide a more positive experience for patients.”
But the province still hasn’t provided any specific details on how the new family plan will help reduce suicide rates, and the long wait times for mental health support.
“I don’t understand how they can make someone that’s in an emergency with a mental illness — how they can make them wait at all,” said Matthews. “I hope that changes are made so that people can get the care they need and deserve.”
Something, she says, her son never got.
Where to get help
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.