There is a movement happening in Alberta right now. Kells Counselling, a founding agency behind The Edmonton Psychological Interagency Committee, is petitioning the Government of Alberta to Support Albertans to Access Funded Psychological Services.
The petition is asking the Government of Alberta to redirect some mental health funding from the centralized medical system and allow Registered Psychologists to bill Alberta Health Services directly.
The belief is that by diverting some funds from the centralized medical stream directly to psychologists across Alberta, timely and expert intervention could be realized without increasing costs and without adding to the pressures on the already backlogged medical system and infrastructure.
The current medical care system in Alberta is designed for psychiatric crises; not timely and/or preventative interventions. This means many Albertans only qualify for psychological intervention and support after substantial suffering or crisis.
In most cases, family doctors and hospitals are not adequately equipped to deal with escalating mental health issues, and psychologists within the centralized Alberta Health system are significantly over extended and unable to meet the rapidly growing demand for services.
Decentralized funding for psychologists will provide for a well-rounded treatment model that is less reactive, more proactive, and much more cost effective in the long run. Solely funding a centralized medical system to support Albertans with mental and behavioural health issues is neither cost efficient nor effective.
We’re hoping that by taking our position to the Health Minister and Premier of Alberta that we can start a conversation to ensure all Albertans have access to dedicated psychologists without financial barriers.
- The Mental Health Commission of Canada reported that, almost half (49%) of Canadians who have suffered from issues such as depression or anxiety have never accessed help.
- In 2010 the costs to Canada for untreated mental health issues were estimated to be at least $50 billion per year, with health care, social services, and income support costs making up the biggest proportion of these costs.
- Research indicates that if we reduce the number of people experiencing a new mental illness in a given year by 10%, the Canadian economy could save at least $4 billion annually.
- In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada (i.e. 7.5 million Canadians in 2018) will personally experience a mental health problem, with the most common being depression or anxiety.
- By age 40, approximately 50% of Canadians will have or have had a serious mental health crisis or a mental illness.
- According to Statistics Canada, young adults aged 15–24 experience the highest incidence of mental disorders of any age group in Canada.
- It is estimated that 10–20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder, with suicide being one of the leading causes of death, accounting for 24% of all deaths among 15–24-year-olds and 16% among 25–44-year-olds.
The EPIC petition is proposing a collaborative NOT a competitive model for mental health services.
- Psychologists are the mental and behavioural health specialists. They are trained to address core issues of mental health, rather than the symptoms.
- Psychologists already work together with doctors, hospitals, and AHS.
- Psychologists want to work more efficiently and collaboratively with AHS and doctors. Working together would ease the burden on the larger centralized system including increasing timely responsiveness and expertise within service specialties.
EPIC is proposing mental health be valued at the same level as physical health is. Albertans would benefit from a complete health system which includes mental health, not just a medical health.
This proposal will NOT increase costs. It is expenditure neutral and will in the long run lower costs and increase health. A diversion of funds, rather than new funds, is being proposed.