Just days after Global Montreal broke the story about a West Island man forced to be treated in French, another English-speaking family is speaking out about their struggles to access mental-health services in their mother tongue in Quebec.
Families are now calling on the health minister to rethink his reform.
“I would tell the health minister that there are a lot of people out there who are suffering who need help who can’t afford private health care,” Andrea Yampolsky said. “It’s very frustrating.”
The teenage years haven’t been easy for Yampolsky’s daughter Jessica Marshall. She was hospitalized with suicidal thoughts close to three years ago, before a specialized dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) program at the Douglas Institute saved her life.
“I couldn’t live my day-to-day life because I couldn’t get through anything without a crisis,” Marshall told Global News. “I was basically a train wreck and had no control over my emotions.”
The 18-year-old likely suffers from a severe mood disorder, but she has yet to get a clear diagnosis. She’s has been on a waiting list at the Jewish General Hospital for a formal psychological assessment for six months. Her family has learned the hard way that getting mental-health services in English is a constant struggle in Quebec.
“For anglophones who need mental health, especially young adults, there’s nothing,” Yampolsky said. “Even as adults, there’s nothing available.”
The mother-daughter duo was devastated to hear about a 24-year-old West Island man who was forced to attend a French facility near Quebec City to access a government-funded in-patient DBT program. Nick Gravel’s family has managed to raise more than $5,000, but it’s a fraction of what he needs to pay for English private therapy in Ontario.
“It’s not fair to say that just because you speak a different language, you’re not allowed to receive a treatment that’s maybe gonna help you and maybe even save your life,” Marshall said.
Health Minister Gaétan Barrette refused our multiple requests for an interview while he looks into Nick Gravel’s case. But families dealing with mental-health issues want answers and they want the Quebec government to make mental health a priority.
“To Minister Barrette, wake up and help us please,” Yampolsky said. “It’s 2018, you gotta get with the times, there is a crisis going on and you need to be proactively working to provide help.”