B.C. Psychologists Call on Government to Provide More Mental Health Coverage Under MSP

Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- British Columbians have struggled so much over the past year. COVID-19 has placed our population under enormous stress and now anxiety, depression, and people contemplating suicide are at an all-time high. The province has begun to take important steps toward addressing these issues, and as regulated health professionals who specialize in the science and practice of mental and behavioral health, psychologists want to help.

Successful medical treatment requires a team of professionals working together including nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and other specialty health care providers. The same is true for successful mental and behavioral health treatment. Now is the time to ensure that British Columbians have all qualified professionals available to be a part of their healthcare team—including registered psychologists. Integrating psychology into healthcare reflects a comprehensive and evidence-based model of care that is the standard practice in many parts of the world. We believe it can be the standard of practice in British Columbia, too.

While there are many different ways that psychologists can help, one immediate step our province can take is to cover psychological services through the Medical Services Plan (MSP) or the Alternative Payments Plan (APP) with a referral from a physician. By integrating psychologists into MSP (or the APP) we can get care for people sooner, treating issues as they arise and not waiting until people are in crisis. Not only is this better for patients but it also benefits family doctors, who are currently bearing the burden of providing the vast majority of mental health and behavioural health services in this province. By being able to refer patients to psychologists, family doctors will have more hours available, reducing waitlists.

Placing psychologists in primary care doctors’ offices is a further step that can be taken to help people thrive. Integrating psychology into family doctors’ offices works. Benefits include: 1) reductions in anxiety, depression, suicidality (the 9th leading cause of death in Canada), 2) reductions in chronic disease and improved physical health, 3) decreased sick days and disability, 4) increases in happiness and overall well-being, 4) decreases healthcare utilization, and 5) reduced stigma. Moreover, research has shown that it saves the system money—at least two dollars for every dollar spent.

We know the challenges facing the government are complex and require thoughtful planning, implementation, and evaluation. The BC Psychological Association does not just want to help our government deal with the crisis at hand, we also want to help develop data-driven solutions that promote mental and physical health and wellbeing. Why? Because when done right, Therapy Is Medicine, Too.

If you want to add your voice to the conversation, please sign our letter of support and use the hashtag #TherapyIsMedicineToo on social media. 


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