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Getting Mental Health Help Without A Benefits Plan

When things go wrong with our bodies, we can rely on the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) to be there to cover the bulk of our expenses. Whether we are employed by an international corporation, or out of a job, having that security is a right we get as Canadians and it’s a valuable part of our identity. What happens, however, when it’s your mind that needs the help? If you don’t have a benefits plan through your work that will cover the cost of a psychologist, then you may be facing a hefty bill.

Many people who offer freelance services, or who make their money in the gig economy have been feeling the isolation and stress of COVID-19 more than those who have the security of working with an organization. If your job required you to interact with people, be in their homes, or work in close proximity, then COVID would have had serious negative effects on your livelihood. Not only is it demoralizing to be out of work, but the financial strain only adds to the pressure. 

Mental health has never been a bigger issue than it was this past year. According to the KKF, a nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues, “In January 2021, 41% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder.” This number is exceedingly high and has been consistently high since spring 2020. If there was ever a time when people needed mental health support, it has been over this past year. 

The problem is, if you don’t have a good benefits plan to support seeing a psychologist, then you’re typically left paying a considerable sum out of pocket for quality support. The people suffering the most are those who have had their work, and finances impacted, on top of the lack of social support from friends and family that we’ve all been missing out on. But this begs the question, when you’re struggling to make ends meet how are you going to afford a psychologist?

The BC Psychological Association (BCPA) is offering a solution for all those who have felt the pressure of this dilemma this past year. They are looking for the BC Government to include psychological services in the MSP. Our Premier, John Horgan said that he would consider including psychological services in the MSP, and the BCPA is working hard to make this a reality. 

If we had the services of a psychologist covered under the MSP it would mean that all the people that work for themselves wouldn't be out of pocket thousands for a few sessions. It would provide support for those that need psychological help the most, and would set a national precedence for mental health standards. The cost of the additional MSP services would be counteracted by the money saved by not letting people's mental health cause bigger issues that can result in months of missed work, family disharmony, hospital visits or even interactions with law enforcement.

If we can take a proactive rather than reactive approach, we can put taxpayer dollars towards better use and help save individuals and families a lot of pain and stress. Better mental health service access will help give British Columbians the better quality of life they deserve.

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