I’ve been ‘in the system’ for over 12 years now. I’ve been in hospital quite a few times during that period and I have had a few different case managers through the community mental health unit. Currently I am using the private system because once again I have been discharged from the public one, deemed to be ‘well’ because I am no longer in crisis.
This is nothing new for those who have been around the system a few times like myself. There are two many people, not enough workers and the system is stretched way beyond the capacity for which it’s supposed to run. Workers are dealing with 20-30 patients instead of the 10-15 they are supposed to.
People who aren’t in immediate need of treatment are discharged or pushed aside. There is no long term treatment, only crisis management. The workers deal with the hurdles as they come along instead of putting in place therapy to help make the need for crisis intervention less because it’s all the time they can afford.
So often I hear of people who reach out for help but are turned away because they aren’t in a crisis, they haven’t reached the bottom of the pit yet. However if they were thrown the rope when they first started to slip then there would be less need for the crisis intervention. We are encouraged to be proactive about our treatment, and yet I have found that the more articulate I have become about the things I need, the less I have available to me.
I am currently paying out of my own pocket (my mental health plan has run out so I don’t get the subsidy for the rest of the year) to see my psychologist and I will be seeing a private psychiatrist at the end of this month. I am so thankful that I am in a position to be able to afford these things, that I can afford to put money away to attend the appointments. There are many people who aren’t, who rely on the over packed public system and are often left to fend for themselves.
I cannot stress how important it is that the public system receive more funding so that long term care can be used. Currently there is 10 subsidised appointments available per calendar year through a mental health plan to see a registered mental health worker of your choosing. This isn’t even enough to see a psychologist monthly for a year. I used my last one two weeks ago. If a person is unable to pay for the remaining appointments then they are left high and dry for the rest of the year and of course unless they are in crisis then they won’t qualify for any public services.
I wish that there was more support to help people with a mental illness live a better life. The seemingly never ending revolving door of crisis management is exhausting and I do wonder if this way of treatment is a contributing factor to the increase in death by suicide. It really can feel hopeless when you are just waiting for the next fall.
There needs to be follow up care for people with a mental illness who are no longer in crisis. We need better long term treatment to help keep people out of constant crisis.