I called into the office of a psychiatrist in Barrie, ON sometime last month. I spoke with the receptionist, who while lovely and helpful, presented me with the next available appointment date for a psychiatric diagnostic appointment: Friday, October 25, 2017 at 9:15 am. As she read off the date and time, the only thing I found myself saying was “Oh god.”
In ten months time I will be able to speak to a psychiatrist and tell him everything that has happened to me and everything that I feel and live with daily. Ten. Months. I am on the cancellation list as of now, leaving my appointment potentially within the next few months if someone cancels.While I tried my best not to be angry, I am still disappointed. My heart aches and I grow tired. I was hoping for an appointment within a month to show this doctor the worst of my sadness and anxiety. But it will have to work much longer, once again.
It still baffles me that in a country with a praised health care system can have such long waitlists and such large date gaps when it comes to psychiatric appointments. For a field that is pursued by a number of students in universities across Canada and the world, there seems to be a lack of these doctors here. It saddens me that while I have the patience and ability to wait this long, others may be near-crisis or creeping towards a breakdown and can’t receive this treatment sooner. I am aware of crisis hotlines and hospitals that provide counsellors for crisis, but I sincerely doubt anyone wants to reach that point. It also disappoints me that while one can see a therapist in the mean time, typically therapists are not covered directly by health insurance, especially if they are in-home or have a private practise. I have seen one therapist and one psychologist in the past three years. The therapist I saw for one session and cost me $100, which forced me to discontinue as I could not claim it under my insurance. The psychologist I saw twice and cost me $150 a session, which I only received 80% coverage over.
I don’t mean to sound so pessimistic, but it’s difficult to look up when money and time are not on your side. I don’t know if I would ever reach crisis point, but the thought of someone else who may not have access suffering is disheartening. I am lucky enough to have a doctor who is willing to help me and treat me as required. I hope that others who are in my position and struggling with their mental health are able to keep their head up and press on until they receive the help they need.
Good luck and much love.