May 18, 2021
Green Party Leader and MLA for Fredericton-South David Coon tables a motion in the Legislative Assembly to implement and improve mental health services in the province.
The mental health care system in New Brunswick is failing to meet people’s needs due to long waitlists, access issues, and underfunding. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified feelings of stress and anxiety, causing alarming levels of despair, suicidal thought, and hopelessness in New Brunswick’s population.
The challenges to access mental health services in New Brunswick include wait times from 6 to 18 months for service, with New Brunswick having the highest suicide rate per capita in Canada. Ongoing staff shortages forced the four-bed Inpatient Youth and Wellness Unit at the Moncton Hospital to merge with the Provincial Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, bringing the total number of beds for youth in crisis from 10 down to 6.
The death of 16-year-old Lexi Daken, who committed suicide after waiting in an emergency room for over 8 hours to see a psychiatrist and never saw one, has sparked calls for the New Brunswick government to transform the mental health care system, specifically on how it is being delivered to young people.
This week, David tabled a motion in the Legislature requesting that the government:
- add 24-hour emergency mental health services to the mental health walk-in clinics being established around the province
- increase the proportion of health spending devoted to mental health to 9% as recommended by the Canadian Mental Health Association
- create a new government department responsible for child and youth services, with a legislative mandate to ensure the integration of services to children and youth across all government departments and agencies.