Recently there has been significant media coverage on the problem of recruiting psychiatrists to Prince Edward Island and the lack of funding for mental health. In addition to addressing these issues, I believe that the current system requires a complete overhaul and better use of existing resources. P.E.I. would benefit from a holistic approach to mental health services to more effectively provide treatment for patients.
First, we must address the revolving door of psychiatrists. Conducting exit interviews with the psychiatrists, and providing more support to them when they are recruited could achieve retention.
Another complex issue is the bed shortage in acute psychiatric care, which means some patients have prolonged waits in the Emergency Department. Ongoing training for mental health professionals, such as psychiatric nurses and counselors must be implemented. ‘ASIST’ is a suicide prevention workshop taking place December 5-6 in Charlottetown. This training would benefit doctors, police officers, teachers and any professionals who work with the public.
With the recent opening of mental health walk-in clinics in Charlottetown, and increased media coverage around this issue, I am optimistic for the future of mental health services on the island. Still, the system must be reviewed, beginning with the practices of the chief of mental health and addictions, Dr. Keizer, and followed by an examination of the gaps in provincial mental health care. The public must hold the province accountable in addressing these gaps and using tax dollars effectively and towards evidence-based solutions.