Two-tiered mental-health care system

How can we help the maximum amount of people with a two-tiered mental health-care system? My contention: you can’t.

It should surprise no one that 2020 and 2021 are two years for the history books. I mean, whoever thought wearing a mask would become a standard accessory? Not me. Yet here we are. And despite the mental health crisis, we are stilling dealing with a Two-tiered mental-health care system.

So many changes. Sadly though, so much has remained the same. From my view, many of the things that need to change to keep us safe are being neglected. Most notable is the two-tiered system mental health care system we are all forced to live with. As far I can tell, it parallels with the severity of COVID 19 itself. I can’t help but think of how many will die by suicide when we finally defeat this virus. Will the numbers be greater or close to the numbers of those who dies of the covid? It all remains to be seen.

For me, when the pandemic began, I was, like many of you, scared to death. I thought to myself, “What the hell is going on?” The world as I knew it seemed to disappear overnight. Now, over two years in, we need to start thinking about ways to mitigate-the mental health consequences.

Experts warn that mental illness will be the next pandemic

The best example I can think of for this was the quarantine. No one could tell us how long we would remain in our homes. Although being stuck within the four walls of my home at the time was painful, it was not as painful for me as it was for most, or so I assume. Living with PTSD, I prefer the solitude that only being at home brings.

For me, being isolated was easy on my battle with PTSD. Since my trauma was built in chaos, I was already in that state. Plus, the lockdown placed a muffler on the noise humanity makes when it’s going about its business.

So, this quiet gave me some much need headspace, allowing me to put a lot of energy into thinking about how we can use these tragic times to identify some of society’s biggest social challenges. Maybe this is exactly the type of thing we needed to force the changes that would better everyone’s lives.

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Having what seemed like all the time in the world to solve these things, I concluded that this two-tiered mental-health care system has left the vulnerable even more so. What’s worse, a pandemic will leave an untold amount of people who lost loved ones and their jobs in this vulnerable category. I thought this is the time to push because this influx of menta illness would have to get addressed.

Having said that, I am a mental-health advocate; I have spent a lot of my time thinking about the potential damage COVID-19 would have on the pre-pandemic and post-pandemic populations. The ramifications, I thought, will be enormous.

Coping with mental illness during the pandemic

So, after all that thinking, what did I conclude? I saw that the current mental-health system is insufficient. What I saw was two crucial issues: 1), the public system is severely under-funded and lacking the resources it needs and 2), the private mental-health care sector is too expensive for the many who need care, especially the marginalized.

Now, as the dust settles, and we are free to move about; many more people are desperate for help. Makes sense, right? But if this broken, two-tiered system was failing us before COVID, it is sure to leave those in need out in the cold afterwards.

In Crisis? Go to Crisis Services Canada


Being through the public system, I saw how precarious it was before the world ground to a halt. So many people are turned away or otherwise discouraged because of the long wait times, they give up trying. What’s worse, many didn’t even bother because “What’s the point?” they wonder. A sad and disturbing reality.

With this in mind, the pandemic excited me in a sense because I hoped that governments and citizens alike would see this two-tiered system mental health care system for what it is: divisive, costly, and morally wrong.

Want to hear more about the struggles of people fighting mental illness? Go to A New Dawn podcast.

Unfortunately, the “new normal” seems to consist only of social-distancing and mask-wearing. Other than that, it’s business as usual. What does this mean for us? Well, from my perspective, it means that the status quo will be seen as sufficient. So far, there has been no move to increase mental-health funding, no legislative move to make the system accessible to everyone, and no outcry to demand change…. We can do and must do better – our nation needs it.

Two-tiered mental-health care system

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Reginald-Nixon Arenburg (Born January 14, 1976) is a Canadian mental health blogger, speaker, and published author. Retired from the fire service and long-term care fields, he has written and self-published an autobiographical account of his life-long battle with anxiety, depression and more recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Titled, The Road To Mental Wellness, he wrote it for what he calls “therapeutic release.” He published it in hopes it would help others going through similar mental health conditions. The sales of The Road To Mental Wellness have been steady selling over 300 copies since its release on October 10, 2021(World Mental Health Day). Arenburg has also been involved in a collaborative publication Called Lemonade Stand Volume III, a book featuring 20 authors who bravely tell their stories of PTSD. All authors where from the military and or emergency services. Published by Joshua Rivedal and Kathleen Myers for the i’Mpossible project, a mental health advocacy organization. Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health podcasts including The Depression Files, A New Dawn, and The Above Ground Podcast Arenburg has also consulted with the Government of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the Honorable Brian Comer and Candidates for the New Democratic Party of Canada, on improving the mental health care system in Canada. Additionally, Jonathan was recognized in The Nova Scotia Legislature by the Honorable, Chris Palmer, Kings-North MLA, for his Book, The Road To Mental Wellness, his fight to make the mental health care system better. In addition, Chis acknowledged the support he gives to others.

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