Promised N.B. mental health system improvements not coming fast enough

Click to play video: 'Improvements to N.B. mental health resources coming too slowly' Improvements to N.B. mental health resources coming too slowly
Many people are experiencing mental health challenges during the pandemic. While the province has promised more spending and more resources in the last several years, for people who need the help now, change is coming too slowly. Suzanne Lapointe has the story. – Jan 19, 2022

For New Brunswickers like Edmunston resident Pauline Turgeon, it can be frustrating trying to get help for mental health issues through the province.

She is unable to renew her prescription for her psychiatric medication as she does not have a family doctor and hasn’t yet been able to speak to a psychiatrist.

“I have not seen my psychiatrist yet. I’ve been in New Brunswick since March and I’m only going to see them on Feb. 28,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.

Green Party leader David Coon asserts the province has made a lot of promises surrounding mental health improvements that it hasn’t kept.

“Very few of them have been implemented,” he said on Wednesday.

Read more: Mental health advocates say need for support in N.B. doubled amid COVID-19 pandemic

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“Whether it’s the walk-in clinics for mental health or various additional resources that were committed to address the realities of additional need during COVID times,” he said referencing the province’s prior commitment to open 13 mental health walk-in clinics as well as appoint a provincial mental health advocate.

“Mental health continues to be the poor cousin in the health-care system.”

Turgeon says she has dealt with addiction and mental health struggles for most of her adult life.

Despite having received professional help in the past, she often feels left to her own devices.

“If it were not for the help that I had received before, I don’t think I would have survived the pandemic. I lost three friends to suicide since 2020.”

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How to strengthen mental health in the new year as COVID-19 pandemic drags on – Jan 2, 2022

Though she has been able to access counselling through the province, she did not feel the service was adequate, as the counselor was unable to provide Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, a type of therapy she had responded well to when she lived in Ontario.

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She said most of the time the emergency room is her only option for immediate help with shut downs to walk-in clinics during the pandemic.

Read more: N.B. moves to COVID-19 circuit-breaker: Here’s how to survive staying at home

“I don’t have income right now because I am struggling to get the right medications that I need to cognitively be able to work. So it’s a catch-22 where I can’t support myself, I can’t pay for a registered nurse who would be able to help me immediately,” she said.

“I can’t pay for anything immediately, so I have to rely on the province’s services and when they’re not there I’m basically falling down the rabbit hole and having to pay more money in crisis than I would in maintenance.”

In a written statement provided to Global News on Wednesday, the Department of Health said that many investments had been made into mental health since February, such as investments into the Mobile Crisis Unit.

The province encourages those experiencing mental health challenges to contact Addiction and Mental Health Services.

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