Amongst the news this week was something surprisingly positive: Charlottetown, Lennox Island and Prince County Hospital, all in the US, have just introduced walk-in clinics that centre on mental health support. Registered mental health community nurses are on hand to provide support and offer therapy sessions of up to one hour, time that can make a world of difference for those seeking help.
Bruce Davidson, the community mental health and addictions western branch manager, acknowledged how helpful the new services have been for providing the support and the service at just the right time. He went on to say that the services are “reducing the barriers and stigma to accessing community mental health services”. Studies further showed that for those that visited the clinics, only a quarter left feeling that they needed to seek more traditional mental health services. Although this figure might not be as small as we would like, it is certainly progress in the right direction and with continued support and funding it could make the difference between help and helplessness for many people.
Charlottetown Area Health Centre
Sessions are focussed on the individual’s struggles and what can be done to improve their situation. At the end of the session, the individual is then given a summary of the discussion and further action to be taken. As Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson stated, “mental health, like other medical conditions, can require immediate support and professional care” and “by expanding our mental health walk-in clinics we are eliminating barriers associated with waiting lists and access to care, and we are providing a safe, accessible space to improve the mental health outcomes”.
The benefits of having a mental health walk-in clinic on hand far outweigh the funding issues that would arise and the search for mental health professionals to staff the clinics. Students, parents, and professionals of all fields will, at some point, be likely to struggle with mental health difficulties. If we were to have those services readily available nationally and, eventually, internationally, then there would be far fewer disappointing statistics. The daunting nature of having to see your GP, being referred onwards, and being stuck on a waiting list for months on end could easily be avoided.
Not only is this saving precious time, but also precious lives. The time has come to make the push for more mental health walk-in clinics.