The Liberal critic for Health and Social Services, Mr. André Fortin, has stated that Quebec needs to immediately improve access to psychological services for the population, by offering 12 sessions of psychological services each year to anyone who requests it. The money invested today in mental health care will translate into long-term savings, the MNA representing Pontiac emphasized.
This week, as part of National Mental Health Week, François Legault’s government announced $31M dollars to enhance psychosocial services. We need to go further- that is even more true given the psychological distress experienced by so many Quebecers during this crisis, Mr. Fortin stated. Over 15% of the population has acknowledged experiencing anxiety related to the current events.
Access to psychological services is currently limited to people who have the means to pay between $90 and $125 per session, or those that have good insurance. When it comes to access to the public system, there are many months of wait time which has a discouraging effect for many.
These difficulties to access consultations generate a loss of productivity and an increase in the cost of medications, medical services and hospitalizations. The cost of these consequences far exceeds the $300M that it would take to immediately include psychological services within the public system. A series of 12 sessions per year could be assumed by the Quebec State.
In December of 2017, a first step was made with the investment of $35M to start the Programme québécois de psychothérapie pour les troubles mentaux. While it was a start, the objective was to enhance access to psychological services over time.
The psychological distress experienced by citizens is real. That is even more so the case today with the thousands of Quebecers dealing with post-traumatic stress, anxiety or who are grieving. It is a reality that we can neither deny nor ignore. The $300M required to include psychological services in the public health care system needs to be seen as an investment rather than an expense. The benefits of psychotherapy have been demonstrated, especially in terms of medication consumption. Neglecting one’s mental health generates consequences for one’s physical health. Investing today will help us to save later.
—André Fortin, Official Opposition Critic for Health and Social Services