Santé mentale
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Press release
October 09, 2020

For Universal Public Access to Psychotherapy

Santé mentale

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The Leader of the Official Opposition and Critic responsible for the Charter for Regions, Ms. Anglade, accompanied by Ms. Marie Montpetit, Health Critic, and Mr. David Birnbaum, Critic for Mental Health, propose that the government quickly adopt a universal public program to cover psychotherapy. The program would cover a wide spectrum of mental health issues for children and adults, and would defray the cost of psychotherapy offered by accredited professionals.

There is an urgent need to act as the 2nd wave of COVID-19 destabilizes our daily habits and accentuates many Quebecers’ mental health problems. We cannot wait any longer.

Psychotherapy is not currently accessible in a timely manner for Quebecers without private insurance. That is why we want the government to accept our proposal and without delay offer a real public program that is accessible to all. We estimate that it would cost $300M annually to put an end to the two-tiered system in mental health care.

Concretely:

• The proposed program would pay for up to 15 sessions with an authorized psychologist or psychotherapist.

• People experiencing psychological difficulties would first be assessed by a professional that is authorized to assess mental health problems. According to that assessment, some people would be directed to online or self-help resources and others would be referred for psychotherapy.

• The assessment could be conducted in an educational setting or as a result of a referral from a community organization, a CLSC or crisis centre, an employee assistance program in the workplace or the Info-Social line.

• Our proposal would implement a universal single-tiered system that is accessible to all citizens and that would decongest the public network so that it can concentrate on the most serious cases which require multidisciplinary teams.

• An analysis and adjustments to the program would be conducted every 5 years.

Today, my political party is presenting the Legault government with a concrete and ambitious proposal. By quickly adopting a program to provide universal access to psychotherapy as we are proposing, the government has an opportunity to act now to help thousands of Quebecers. We believe that this isn’t just a simple social choice but rather a long-term investment. It is time for our public network to offer fast, free, consultations where patients are able to choose their psychotherapist. Quebecers have long wanted mental health to be at the heart of our social concerns. It is now time to take one step further. Partisanship has no place in this debate. Thousands of citizens are waiting and hoping for simple and free access to those who can help them get their feet back on the ground. Measures for mental health care are not a luxury, Mr. Legault, they are a priority.

–Dominique Anglade, Leader of the Official Opposition and Critic for the Charter for Regions.

During this pandemic, studies have shown that one in every five adults in Quebec has reported feeling anxiety. According to the Order of Quebec Psychologists, there is an increased prevalence of depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers. The Order reports that seniors are among the groups most at risk of developing mental health scars within the context of a pandemic. Since the beginning of the first wave we have repeated that there must not be a lack of resources, even less so with the intensification of this 2nd wave. We are reaching out to the government with a proposal that is serious, ambitious and completely attainable. Quebecers are demanding action in mental health now. That is why we are asking for universal public access to psychotherapy.

–David Birnbaum, Critic for Mental Health.

In Quebec, mental health problems with affect 1 in 5 people throughout the course of their lifetime. Behind that worrisome number, there are Quebecers who are experiencing anguish and difficult situations. With the pandemic, there are even more Quebecers in psychological distress and that is concerning to our political party. The CAQ government must listen to this distress call and take the necessary action by adopting our proposal as soon as possible.

–Marie Montpetit, Health Critic.

In closing, recall that the diagnosis and assessment of mental health problems, as well as psychotherapy, are reserved acts and that our proposal does not seek to modify the rules currently in force.