Publicly Funded Mental Health Care

A publicly-funded mental-heath care system would serve “the many,” whereas a two-tiered, semi-private system only compounds division.

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Division, something in plain sight, yet is left to fester under the weight of those who choose to see nothing wrong with it. That is, of course, as long as said division doesn’t apply to them. But here’s the thing: a decisive society affects us all.

“John, what are you talking about? How do you know that human suffering will eventually reach the doorsteps of the advantaged?” While the answer is simple in a way, it is nonetheless a long-winded one – and one that I am happy to try and answer. Keep in mind – this is my perspective on the issue, and it should be read with this in mind.

Since I am a mental-health writer, suffer and published author, I will use the mental-health care system to illustrate my point. Firstly, I want to say: I detest any form of inequality and have made it my mission to highlight where we need to do better, regardless of colour, gender, sexual orientation, etc. I strongly believe that if we are to make this a better world, we must be brave enough to talk about even the most challenging of societal issues.

The argument for public mental health care

Now, let’s move onward, so I can show you where I am coming from. In Canada, we have a public health-care system, and while it has served Canadians well overall, it is far from 100% publicly funded. Take the mental-health sector: it’s best described as a two-tiered mental health care system.

Why? Because it is, sort of, funded by the taxpayer. By that I mean, it’s poorly-funded by government. A good example is when people are turned away from psych wards because there simply aren’t any beds. When someone comes in and says they are suicidal and are in crisis, they damn well better get the help they need. I mean, if the ER is full, they never turn away people having a stroke or heart attack. Am I right?

Therefore, it’s both morally and ethically wrong to tell someone that they can’t be helped. At least in my view.

Remember when I said the mental-health care system is underfunded? Well, I guess it’s viewed as okay because we have a really robust, private mental-health service here. That should solve the problem, right? Wrong. In fact, I feel that it only creates more suffering – more pain and yes, great levels of division. It’s the old case of the haves vs the have-nots. Sorry, but in my view this is unacceptable.

The classic argument made in favour of this two-tiered system is this: “If I can afford it, then what’s wrong with me paying for it?” Well, nothing, for you, but for millions of others who are disadvantaged, the issue isn’t a choice; it’s their reality. In fact, the more disadvantaged you are, the more dire the consequences.

A convo between me and an administrative assistant – Private mental health service.

Me: “Good morning; I was wondering if you could tell me if there has been an increase in requests for mental-health treatment in your organization since the start of COVID 19?”

Admin: “Yes, a lot more. It’s really quite sad, because when they ask about our prices, so many of them say they can’t afford it.” She added that it breaks her heart.

And how else could the less fortunate afford such an essential service? The short answer is, they can’t. But isn’t this what the publicly-funded system is for? Well, yes, except the number of mental-health professionals to be able to run it, just aren’t there. Sure, there are psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors working in the system, but nowhere near enough. Therefore, people wait and wait and wait some more. Here’s a novel idea: amalgamate all the mental-health care professionals into a federally-funded publicly-funded mental health-care system

Waiting months for care is simply unacceptable, especially when one is suffering from a mental health crisis. How is waiting for services, when one is critical, helping? Furthermore, I’m concerned that such a private/public setup only adds animosity and thus more stress for those who are left behind by both. Perhaps the hardest question to ask is: “Why are some viewed as worthy while others are not? No money? “You’ll have to figure out how to survive on your own till we can get to you.”

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The size of one’s bank account should not factor into one’s need for life and death assistance.

Jonathan Arenburg – The Road To Mental Wellness

The Mental Health Crisis during COVID-19

Maybe the right question is: if there’s a choice to work in private mental health or public mental health, what are the consequences for those seeking help? What is your answer/solution?

We are one nation. That’s why social systems are invented: for the greater good, not for the few who can afford to pay, As far as I am concerned, this is the very definition of division. Once again, it’s the wealthy vs the poor. Perhaps the most troubling? The more disadvantaged one is, the less likely they will even try to access help.

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness - 8 sings your relationship is hurting your mental health.
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The best solution I can think of is to 1) Again, channel every mental-health care professional into the public system, and 2) Pay these very skilled and highly-trained professionals what they are worth.

A deeper look

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, (report) mental health costs $50 billion a year in economic losses each year in Canada, a number that can be reduced with the right amount of public funding and resources.

Mental Health Commission of Canada – Website

As far as I am concerned, a social initiative like a robust publicly-funded mental-health care system will go a long way to unify us as one nation. Is it the answer to all our woes? No, but the needs of everyone as the priority will go a long way in helping, no matter how far down the disparity ladder one sits. We really are stronger together.

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If you are struggling, please go here for help: Talk Suicide Canada

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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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