ELECTION 2021: Mental Health Needs of Nova Scotians

What to say when approaching your candidate

Questions for your candidate on psychological services

  1. What does your party’s election platform propose concerning the mental health of Nova Scotians?
  2. What will your party do to improve access to psychological services in Nova Scotia and in this riding, particularly for middle and low income Nova Scotians?  
  3. Do you support correcting the historical underfunding of mental health services, in comparison to health services for physical problems? 

Key Messages

1. Psychological well-being, problems and disorders concern us all.

2. Psychological services are proven effective in helping people maintain psychological health and to deal with psychological problems and disorders.

3. Adequate treatment of psychological problems can reduce other costs to the health system.

4. Health care insurance plans don’t do enough to ensure adequate and equal access to psychological services.

5. We must do more to ensure all Nova Scotians – regardless of income – can access the psychological care they need.

Possible Solutions

1. Fund mental health services with 10% of overall health care funding, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

2. The Government of Nova Scotia develop a pilot project in several hospitals across the province to provide psychological emergency assessment and brief intervention services in emergency rooms to patients with undiagnosed medical conditions (UMC). Patients with UMCs present with physical symptoms that, after extensive diagnostic investigations, are found to not have a physical illness.

They often suffer from a psychological problem or disorder that manifests itself with physical symptoms. e.g., chest pains that could be indicative of a heart attack but are in reality an anxiety disorder.

The goal is to provide more appropriate services for these patients and to reduce the load on emergency services in hospitals.

3. The concept of “Collaborative Care Teams” be broadened in Nova Scotia to include psychologists.  Research in other jurisdictions has shown that there are total cost savings when health clinics include a broader range of health professions, not just physicians and nurses. The Nova Scotia Government could work with APNS to develop a framework for providing psychological services with and through Family Health Teams.  Similarly, more psychologists need to be included in the Schools Plus program.

4. A tax credit for private practice psychologists who provide pro bono (free) services to low-income Nova Scotians. 

5. Increase early assessment of children’s developmental and learning problems, via hiring more school psychologists in the school system, and more psychologists within the IWK health authority for early screening for developmental problems.  Provide for internships in school psychology.