FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHARLOTTETOWN – Islanders’ mental health is suffering under the King government’s mismanagement of the health care system, says Liberal MLA Gord McNeilly (Charlottetown-West Royalty).
“Blue Monday was yesterday, and it certainly has been quite gloomy the past several days,” said McNeilly. “We’re more vulnerable in the middle of winter to feeling more sad and less of our usual selves. But there is no clear, comprehensive plan for mental health services across the Island. Without the needed investments and proper co-ordination of mental health services on PEI, I’m concerned that more residents are turning to emergency rooms, putting additional pressure on our hospitals that are already straining to keep up with demand. Even worse, some might not even be reaching out at all and suffering in silence.”
Since the pandemic, the need for mental health services has surged. Social isolation has had a dramatic effect on Islanders’ mental well-being. For example, earlier this month, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported a quarter of all hospitalizations of children and youth aged 5 to 24 were for mental health conditions in the first year of the pandemic in 2020.
Anecdotally, Islanders report significant challenges in timely access to mental health services, said McNeilly.
“Greater mental health supports are needed at the community level, before residents experience crises and require hospital intervention,” he said. “But even as we hear news across Canada of emergency departments being overwhelmed, the King government has done nothing to intervene.”
McNeilly’s questions posed in the legislature concerning improving access to mental health services often repeatedly go unanswered by the King government.
McNeilly noted some of the ways the government has shown weak leadership on mental health services, including:
No clear coordination between the Department of Health and Wellness and the Department of Social Development and Housing on mental health and addictions and supports for unhoused Islanders.
Delays in getting mobile health units operational, with no overnight coverage.
No announcement on where and how
the new Stepped Care 2.0 program is being implemented across the province. or how this new service will be evaluated for success.