Pop Quiz: Who’s the biggest direct employer of psychologists in the country? If you guessed Corrections Canada you’d be absolutely correct.
There’s two primary ways to get public coverage for the services of a psychologist in Ontario – commit a crime or get admitted to one of the province’s psychiatric hospitals. Given the continual shrinking of those hospitals, the crime might be the better bet.
Speaking Thursday to leadership from OPSEU’s Mental Health Division, Karen R. Cohen says psychological treatments not only work, but also reduce reliance on other health practitioners. The CEO of the Canadian Psychological Association says 70 per cent of problems brought to family physicians are for or related to mental health. Those physicians are frequently at a loss to meet that need.
Part of the problem is access to treatment. Psychology got left out of the core services Medicare was intended to cover, leaving patients with the choice of paying out of pocket or, if they have it, accessing their employer health benefits. For many without means, there is no choice at all.