Talk Therapy With Vera

Growing Demand On Health Care System

Vera Cheng talks with host Arlene Bynon from Canada Talks SiriusXM 167 on discuss the growing demand in the Canadian mental health care system and what can be done to address this issue.

Arlene Bynon [00:00:14] Crisis mental health. Look at how many times that has come up in so many different stories. Certainly when we look at crime and the feeling of a lack of safety across the country, as I was reporting, I, you know, as we’re doing the show, I’m seeing a stabbing on a bus and a shooting on another bus in Calgary, and it’s, and the situation in the city of Toronto and now the race for a new mayor in that city. Mental illness has become a huge topic in British Columbia, controversial program where when the summer being forced to take medication or do things about their mental illness against their will, they don’t sign up. What do we do about this crisis? And how deep is it? Because every day another siren song of just how tough it is, there is a demand for mental health service. We’re hearing people’s stories who are in crisis and there’s nowhere for them to go wait times extremely long. Joining us is Vera Cheng, who’s a mental health advocate, uh, psychotherapist and the founder of Talk Therapy with Vera. Very good morning. Thank you for being here.


Vera Cheng [00:01:26] Thank you for having me today, Arlene.


Arlene Bynon [00:01:29] Every headline when it comes to violence and security is pointing to perhaps a blind eye, lack of service of a, whatever it is. The word crisis is coming up. Vera, would you agree that the word crisis is appropriate here?


Vera Cheng [00:01:46] Yes. Um, what I have seen so far in the last, you know, 10 years, you know, since I’ve been in the field, recognizing that there has been extreme long wait list for mental health services, um, within the community-based agency where I used to work, and often time that, you know, despite that we do have budgets and there are funding for mental health services, it’s still not enough, um, because then people will actually go into ER for immediate mental health services. Um, but then it actually lead to the backlog of the system.


Arlene Bynon [00:02:20] It is, and, and we’ve seen this in every examination on who’s in violence and nowhere to go. It ties into homelessness as well, and there’s nowhere for those who are homeless to go as well. Vera, is there, is this just an increase in demand in your opinion, or is this a shrinking of services? Was there a way along the road that went the wrong way?


Vera Cheng [00:02:48] Mm, I think that’s a really good question that you have brought up. I think what happened is that it’s, it just, I think since now we have been, you know, since Covid, but also didn’t also, now there’s been research have found, have found that people are experiencing more mental health services due to also the increase of inflation that makes it even more tougher for people, um, you know, getting support. And I think what happened is that right now in on, for example, in Ontario, we do have a psychotherapy program that is offered, funded by the government, but it’s only up to, uh, up to 12 sessions. Um, however, in research we, there is indication that, you know, people do need more than 24 sessions in order to feel better.


Arlene Bynon [00:03:36] How much do you think it would help, you know, when we look at these programs and we see we’re failing what success is out there? Can you tell us that these programs keep people off the streets, can help them resist homelessness and keep them on a healthy straight and narrow? Is there a co-relation there directly in your opinion?


Vera Cheng [00:04:03] Um, you know, I think that this is a great point. I think what happened is that, you know, if we, if the government have actually, you know, give more funding on not just with the hospital, with mental health services, but also in the community base, mental health services, um, and addiction services, it will help the numbers to, to, to go down. And I think what happened is that we do need more, um, uh, you know, mental health professional or social workers to be working in this community based agency sector. I think a lot of people now a days, what I’ve seen so far, um, in my practice is that they are, um, they actually have funding, um, have insurance coverage to the employers, and that’s what they’re, that’s what they’re coming to see me for.


Arlene Bynon [00:04:52] All right. So they, they have that access. Finally, I wanna ask you, uh, it’s controversial, but it comes up in this contr in this conversations and BC is moving forward. They’ve started a pro program, and those who are mentally ill, some of them are there and they’re not there of their own volition, they are being mandated involuntary treatment. Do you agree with it, Vera? Because there are many of you say that when that was rescinded many years ago, that’s how we got in this problem.


Vera Cheng [00:05:26] Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, we do have similar program like this, um, involuntary in, in burial. Well, however, it’s really up to the, you know, the doctors or the psychiatrists to do a proper assessment. Um, and, and they have to stay in the mental health facility to access services because they’re deemed not to be safe, um, for the com uh, for the society or for the community. But however, I mean, it really depends also in the individual, whether they wanting the support or not, because I think Oh, yeah, at the, at the, at the same time, it’s that we wanna be client center, right? We don’t want ’em to be able to force ’em to access services if they don’t want to.


Arlene Bynon [00:06:08] Yeah. Somes saying, well, if they’re, if they’re a danger to others, maybe that bar should be lowered a little bit. Vera Chang, thank you for joining us. Good luck and what is a very stressful profession these days. We appreciate your time, Vera. Thank you.


Vera Cheng [00:06:26] Thank you so much for having me today.


Arlene Bynon [00:06:28] Okay. Vera Cheng, mental health advocate, psychotherapist and founder of Talk Therapy with Vera.

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