What is going on in Canada and England?

Canada and England both hold a special place in my heart. I’m Canadian born, grew up in England, and now live in the US. I’ve been reading your blogs and I can’t understand how mental illness is treated in these two countries. I’ve read that people in crisis have had to wait weeks to see a doctor? From what I can gather, you also have a limited amount of time and visits with your doctor? Tell me isn’t true. Tell me that you don’t have to cut yourself up before someone will see you.

I have a doctor that I chose. I can see him whenever I need to ($50 deductible per visit), I can call his office and ask questions. If necessary, I can admit myself into the local psych ward at the hospital. I have decent insurance. Unfortunately, there are only about 100 beds available for mental patients in a city of 100,000 people. Deciding to seek help was hard enough and I’m so glad that the system didn’t add any extra anxiety.

What is the process in Canada and England to get help? From what I have read, it doesn’t seem easy.

6 thoughts on “What is going on in Canada and England?

  1. I am Canadian and each province/ territory runs their healthcare differently so I can only speak about Ontario.

    There are many factors involved.

    If you are in crisis you go to the ER for immediate care. If you are not in crisis your options are to wait for free public care or you can privately pay and be seen relatively quickly.

    Wait lists vary bit the standard seems to be around 6 months and paid private therapy can run $150/session. Insurance through private health insurance can cover some costs if private care whereas majority of public services are government funded and free.

    If you are not in crisis when first looking for services but then go into crisis, services will usually be found for you immediately.

    Some programs do require a doctors referral which can be hard to get and psychiatrists are fairly useless as they are not usually available. GP’s are filling these gaps, diagnosing and providing medication.

    It’s not perfect and Canada has actually created a national framework for mental health (just haven’t done anything with it). I have only used public services because I can’t afford private. I don’t think there are many countries will good mental health service access. It’s a global problem.

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  2. I know you’re specifically asking about Canada and England. But what you wrote stood out to me:

    “I’ve read that people in crisis have had to wait weeks to see a doctor? From what I can gather, you also have a limited amount of time and visits with your doctor? Tell me isn’t true. Tell me that you don’t have to cut yourself up before someone will see you.”

    This isn’t so much the case now, but when I was a teenager (in the U.S.) on my parents’ military insurance, it took five weeks for me to see a psychiatrist after my first suicide attempt. The appointments were three months apart, but he gave me prescriptions to last that long. I wasn’t given a phone number and I waited, sometimes for up to seven hours in a cramped office in an unsafe neighborhood, to be seen. My visit was probably five to seven minutes, and even when I told him I felt too groggy and I was gaining too much weight at the time, he nodded and continued to hand me the same scripts for the same medications.

    I couldn’t change my doctor, because it takes another four months to get someone new on that particular insurance policy. Or at least this was the case in 2009.

    Needless to say, I don’t see that doctor anymore. Actually, I’ve had better success with a nurse practitioner, who actually talks to me and the clinic checks to see that the medications work well with my metabolism.

    My time being hospitalized wasn’t so great either. They kept you, fed you three times a day, made you go to group therapy, which wasn’t very helpful, and the psychiatrist also spoke with you for five minutes or so. Apparently I read too much when I was at the hospital, and because I wasn’t “socializing enough” with the other teens in our ward, they told me this would count against me in my chart, and I would have to stay in the hospital longer.


  3. It sounds like Quebec has pretty much the same system as Ontario (in Canada). I went back to school, so I left private care. Quebec has a shortage of GPs. I had to go to a walk-in clinic to see a doc, from there I was referred to a mental health nurse. I saw her for 6 months before a psychiatrist was able to see me. I was put on a waiting list for therapy, that took 10 months. I got 15 sessions and they sent me on my way saying I could call again in six months to be put back on the waiting list. I did that, been on the waiting list for 8 months now. I still see the psychiatrist monthly. I have used a “crisis line” and gone to the ER when I was feeling really desperate. I was told these services are for people with serious mental illness.
    Private care was great though.

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  4. I live in England. I was diagnosed with moderate depression and anxiety at the beginning of December 2014. I was referred for counselling at this point too. I was given a counselling assessment at the end of January. At this appointment I was told that I had waited far too long for this appointment! I am still waiting for a counselling appointment with the NHS (National Health Service) here. Luckily, I am going to be getting six counselling sessions through the healthcare my dad gets through his work. If it wasn’t for this, I would have to continue to struggle. I feel that as I have been left for 3 months my health has deteriorated since December x


  5. I’ve found that in the countries I’ve lived in, getting help has more to do with how much money you have, regardless of the system 😦

    When I’ve been gainfully employed with lots of resources, I’ve had the best care in my life. When I’ve needed help the most, I’ve even been denied basic medicine. Such is. And the general public thinks “getting help” means calling some number or another.

    Until it happens to them.


  6. I live in Wales, it works the same as in England, although for some treatments like CBT or DBT there is a long wait of weeks or months (it’s mostly due to lack of qualified people), there is no wait for emergency treatment. If I really need to see my psychiatrist, I can see him within the next two weeks, if it’s even more urgent than that, I have a nurse that will come to my house the same day. I see her once a week, and she visits me for a chat. We also have home treatment team, they are people who you can ring up and talk to immediately, and if you need urgent care they will visit you once a day at your house for two or more weeks. It helps reduce inpatient care needed at psychiatric hospitals.
    When I was anorexic, and a seriously low weight, I only had to wait 2 days to see a specialist. It varies from county to county. I’m lucky to live in a county with excellent mental health services, and I now volunteer for them too.


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