More funding for mental health needed

Writer criticizes Interior Health for putting so little funding into mental health.

Dear Editor

Recently I read a document I found online from B.C. Care Providers Association (www.bccare.ca) .

There was a graph on page 16 that concerned me. Interior Health Expenditures for Mental Health for 2014-2015 were only six per cent of their total expenditures. Figures for other health authorities around the province ranged from 6-9 per cent. Many mental health conditions can manifest themselves in serious physical illnesses and often those people end up in acute care beds which cost approximately $1,200 a day.

It seems to me that if more moneys were allocated for mental health services, less moneys would have to be spent in emergency rooms and for acute care beds, just to name two areas of health expenses. Police costs would probably become less as many times they are called to deal with someone who has serious mental health problems.

How many times have people visited emergency rooms with rather vague symptoms, mainly due to having overwhelming feelings of depression, anxiety or other mental health issues and really needing to find a source of support? When people reach breaking points, if they are able to get help, they will reach out for what is available. Sometimes people resort to drugs/alcohol to deal with underlying mental health issues and treatment for those two conditions make our medical costs soar. Caregivers burn out and become physically ill as they are not able to get the support they need.

We are fortunate in having two mental health/addictions support workers in our hospital but they are only 1.5. I am sure if their numbers were doubled, they would find people who would benefit from their guidance and support.

Too often, we are also hampered by the idea that having a mental illness is something shameful. I felt that way for years when I suffered from several serious bouts of depression. I was so fortunate in having my doctor send me to an outpatient depression clinic where education, nutritional guidance, group counselling, creative outlets and physical exercise helped us realize we were suffering from a chemical imbalance. If we got help and if we worked towards becoming well, with or without medication, we became healthy again.

Please encourage Interior Health to increase the amount of spending they spend on mental health, and please learn to view mental health isssues in a different manner.

Marilyn Bueckert

Ashcroft