NDP: mental health investment vital for better health care

NS NDP Leader Gary Burrill. (NDP photo)

HALIFAX: The provincial NDP are calling on the newly elected Progressive Conservative government under Premier Tim Houston to keep their election promise and make serious investments in mental health care to ensure all those needing care are able to get it.

The NDP Caucus tabled legislation this week that would increase funding to mental health care and create dedicated mental health emergency response teams across the province . 

“We can see that the need for mental health care is growing and the Conservatives must do what’s required in order to make sure people have the care they need,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “When we talk about fixing health care, that has to include a commitment to better funding of mental health care in the public system.”  

The NDP’s Mental Health Bill of Rights would increase mental health funding to 10 per cent of the health care budget. With those funds, same-day/next-day mental health clinics could be set up throughout the province. 

“Not all mental health care is emergency mental health care and if more people were able to get help sooner we could help people before they’re in a serious situation,” said Alec Stratford, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers.

“Social workers are among a number of professions that are trained and able to help folks looking for support with their mental health.” 

Along with increased funding, the NDP is proposing dedicated emergency teams staffed by health care professionals.

The teams would help deal with mental health crises and ensure that people with the training to handle a mental health emergency are available to respond.

“When people are dealing with a mental health emergency they need access to specialized, trauma-informed care,” said NDP Mental Health and Addictions spokesperson, Lisa Lachance.

“With dedicated teams in each of the four health zones, we could help people where and when they need it.”