I would like to share with my experience with the current state of mental health in Ontario or Oshawa in particular, as someone living with Bipolar I. I'm sharing this not for sympathy, but for assistance in fighting a stigma around the treatment of mental health.
In 2012, I was diagnosed by my family doctor as Bipolar I. For five years he managed my medications very well however, in the fall of 2017 my lithium levels dropped and I fell into severe depression and anxiety. I was sent to the hospital's emergency for suicide prevention. I also had to take a leave of absence from the bank I was working at in Toronto and after that, life spiraled downhill even further.
- Lack of Psychiatrists In January 2018 my family doctor was able to get a referral in with a Psychiatrist at the hospital but the appointment was not scheduled until September 2018 - a whopping 9 months later. We asked to be on the cancellation list at that time. It seemed there were no cancellations as I was not able to see a Psychiatrist until Sept 4th, 2018. In the end, when I did finally see Dr K., he felt my condition was severe enough he put me on his own personal emergency list
- Lack of Program Funding In January 2018 I was enrolled in the hospital's Mental health outpatient program. I participated in it for four weeks and the last couple of weeks of extension program – most of the programs were cancelled due to lack of government funding. I wasn't able to experience the full program as my predecessors did
- Costs of Therapy In February 2018 my insurance company wanted me to see Durham Family Services until I got in with a Psychiatrist however this was going to cost me $110/hour out of pocket and I was only earning wages of Long Term Disability
- In March 2018 I received a letter that I lost my position within the bank. This was a set back again in the road to my recovery. They did however, tell me I could apply for other positions at the bank once I was well enough to come back
- Employment By August 2018 I was prepared to return to the bank effective September 1st, 2018 however, I received a letter from my employer on Aug 27th stating my employment had been terminated. Ouch.
- Lack of room in Emergency Departments In early September I was back in the hospital emergency room following the news of my employment termination. There were no beds available in the mental health side of the Hospital so I spent 24 hours in a bed in the hall of the observation rooms
- I received poor treatment – no pillow, I had to sleep with my purse on my bed beside me. Nurses told the cafeteria staff that “she’s just here because she only checked herself in”. Because of that, I was not given the number of meals as everyone else
My medications have also changed up, and will now cost me upwards of $500 / month out of pocket. This is something that I would not be able to afford if it wasn't for my spouse so i really sympathize for others
Lastly, I just received a call from a support centre that would get me into groups for Bipolar and Depression however the wait time just for in take is two months.