Family Service Ontario strongly agrees that a “major shift is needed” in the provision of mental-health supports to address the number of people falling through the gaps in care. Waiting months to see a psychologist or psychiatrist is not acceptable. Not everyone, however, requires a psychologist or psychiatrist when experiencing a mental-health issue. Many Ontarians receive psychotherapy from other registered professionals employed in community-based agencies, including the social workers and psychotherapist in our family service agencies.
The article also addresses the need for people to have several doors to access care. This is a critical point, as not all people who experience mental-health issues identify their problem as being mental-health based. The benefit of our family service agencies is that anyone can attend a walk-in clinic or call to book an appointment without the need of a referral or a diagnosis. For many, this will provide the services needed. Those who require additional services, such as psychiatry, are supported in their navigation through the system to access the most appropriate services for their needs.
As the author noted, a fix won’t happen overnight. Instead, we should be rethinking how we deliver mental-health services in the province altogether. The new system must be inclusive to all mental-health seekers and providers—including community-based organizations such as family service agencies.
Family Service Ontario and its members believe the mental-health response is more than psychiatry and psychologists. While they play a vital role, it is the entire system of care that is key for our post-pandemic recovery. We’re stronger together!