Recently, Premier John Horgan expressed that he would be willing to consider including psychologists under our BC medical services plan coverage. This would mean that those seeking mental health supports would have an easier time accessing those services, regardless of their extended health benefits or ability to pay.
COVID-19 has put British Columbians under enormous stress and now anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts are at an all-time high. The Premier’s willingness to consider including psychologists under MSP is an important step towards treating mental health like any other medical issue. Here’s why it matters:
1. It takes a team
Successful medical treatment requires a team of professionals working together including nurses, physicians, pharmacists and specialist healthcare providers. The same is true for successful mental and behavioral health. Now is the time to ensure that British Columbians have all qualified professionals available to be a part of their healthcare team—including psychologists. This will not only improve our overarching standard of health care, but it will improve lives for many individuals as well.
2. Family doctors need support
By integrating psychologists into MSP (or the APP) we can get care for people sooner, treating matters as they arise and not waiting until people are in crisis. Not only is this better for patients but it also benefits family doctors, who are currently bearing the burden of providing the vast majority of mental health and behavioural health services in this province. By being able to refer patients to psychologists, general practitioners will have more hours available, reducing waitlists.
3. Therapy is medicine too
While therapy has long taken a backseat in the medical field it is finally gaining the respect and recognition it deserves. People’s mental health is equally as important as their physical health to their overall well-being. Psychologists are an important part of BC’s mental health care system and the work they do should be covered for those that require their medical expertise in our province.
4. Not having coverage costs taxpayers money
Investing in people’s mental health before there’s a crisis saves money in the long run. When people have a mental health event, they are more likely to harm themselves or others which puts a much greater strain on our MSP budget than the initial investment would be to protect their mental health. We see this extra money spent on emergency room visits, hospitalizations, prescription medicines and increased sick leave, much of which could be avoided with psychologist coverage.
5. It creates a healthier community
Having access to more psychological services under MSP is a great benefit for everyone living in British Columbia. People who are mentally well have more capacity to contribute to creating safer, happier communities. Increased access to mental health services will result in much-improved quality of life for all British Columbians.
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