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[Opinion] Access to mental health care should be a right

[Opinion] Access to mental health care should be a right

Faced with my distress, the doctor who sees me in the emergency room asks me this question: “Mme Leduc, do you have, yes or no, suicidal thoughts? »

“No,” I replied, begging her to give me the help I needed anyway.

On a sunny March Monday, after gathering up all my courage and asking my husband to take me to the emergency room, we turned back. The situation wasn’t bad enough…

Yet I was completely non-functional; unable to work, but especially unable to take care of my young children, even to be in their presence. Their presence had a mirror effect and reminded me of how much I suffered and that I was unable to take care of them.

On October 28, at the wheel of her vehicle, a woman allegedly dived into the waters of the Mille-Îles River with her two children on board. The one-month-old baby and the mother died.

Every time the media reports an infanticide, my heart sinks… It could have been me… It could have been us. No one is immune. Hormonal and chemical imbalances can sometimes lead to completely irrational actions with dramatic consequences.

My heart filled with empathy thinks of the children whose lives were stolen and the solutions we could have put in place to save them.

We are collectively responsible.

No less than 20% of children have a parent who has experienced an episode of mental illness during their lifetime. One in five children. In a class of 25 children, there are five children whose parent was not, at one time or another, willing to meet their needs. Children who very often become the parents of their parent. When the parents suffer, it is the children who are the first collateral victims; those are Invisible childrenas Varda Étienne presents so well in her documentary series, through which she wishes to give them a voice.

Last March, I hit rock bottom. This was the beginning of a combatant’s journey to have my suffering recognized, to have access to resources and to receive adequate psychotherapeutic and medical care. But I am immensely privileged; I left my job for sick leave during which I received a percentage of my salary and, ultimately, I received help by turning to the private sector due to the inaccessibility of care in the network audience.

How can we wait for months in such psychological and physical suffering without sinking further, without taking our loved ones with us? In fact, thousands of people are forced to do so due to a lack of access to care in the public network.

What these children experience are not exceptions, individualized cases; it is a real public health issue. By providing parents with the care they need, the State contributes directly to the health and development of these children. That their needs are met; physiological needs, but also the need to live in a stable and predictable environment in order to be able to fulfill oneself in the long run. Failure to do so has significant consequences for our children and for our society as a whole.

When I am in front of my classes, I teach my students that everything is the result of political choices. We choose to favor certain investments over others. How can we not prioritize mental health needs when we know what it costs us collectively not to engage in them?

According to Force jeunesse, an organization that defends the rights and interests of Quebec youth in the development of public policies, inaction costs Quebec $18 billion a year in “medical and health care, community and social services and in income support. Psychotherapy care should be covered by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec. We would collectively be human and economic winners.

The current situation is not inevitable, it can be remedied. A privilege ? Access to mental health care should be a right!

I would like to offer my condolences to the loved ones of this mother in distress. My thoughts are with you.

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