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Mental health care: Cut, or not?

The Bread Guy

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This, according to the union:
Despite widespread concerns with the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicide rates for members of the Canadian Forces (CF), notifications received by unions representing Department of National Defence (DND) health professionals indicate that federal budget cuts will shut down a key unit in the department that monitors mental health and contributes to suicide prevention.

(....)

The main focus of the Deployment Health Section of Canadian Forces Health Services Group is mental health surveillance. The positions which have been declared expendable include the department's most knowledgeable experts on monitoring of PTSD disorder rates and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (concussion). Mental health problems have been identified as an area of concern in the military since the Health and Lifestyle Information Survey in 2000 and the CF Supplement to the Canadian Mental Health Survey in 2002.

In addition to closing down the four-person Deployment Health Section, DND's capability to monitor the health of Canadian Forces members will be crippled by the loss of another 8 of 18 positions including epidemiologists and researchers who analyzed mental health outcomes such as depression, PTSD, mental health services, and suicide ....

This, according to The Canadian Press:
The Conservatives insisted Thursday that resources to help soldiers deal with the effects of war aren't being lost to budget cuts.

Union officials say a dozen researchers and experts who work on mental-health issues in the military have been told their jobs are on the line.

The Opposition called the cuts callous, given statistics released this week showing suicide rates among soldiers reached record high levels last year.

But Defence Department officials say no final decision has been made on those positions. Meanwhile, they're moving to increase the number of front-line personnel available to help active soldiers and veterans.

"Our government has made the decision to ensure that the positions of all front-line workers who treat ill and injured personnel are protected," Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement.

"Direct patient care is not being affected in any way by recent efficiency measures." ....

This, according to the Minister of Defence in the House of Commons during Question Period:
Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.):  Mr. Speaker, the duplicity of the government knows no bounds. While its ministers spend like royalty it looks for so-called efficiencies by surreptitiously cutting programs to the most sick and vulnerable.  Suicides in the Canadian Forces have almost doubled. The current government cut veteran suicide prevention programs and the specialists who treat post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD causes a lifetime of mental pain and suffering. Can the Minister of National Defence justify these callous cuts as easily as he defends his bloated perks?

Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, virtually all of what the member has just said is false. We are not reducing, but are in fact increasing, the support for the Canadian Forces members, veterans and their families, as we have done consistently since taking office. We are working toward doubling the number of mental health professionals available to members. We have opened joint personnel support units across the country. We continue to work with the civilian mental health care workers in associations across the country to see that they are able to help our reservists as well as our regular force members. We are very proud of what we have done. We will continue to make those investments.

This, according to the Minister's latest statement:
“Our government is committed to ensure that we provide the best possible support for members with mental or physical illness or injuries. We have created a strong support network and a variety of programs to assist injured members, both regular and reserve. There are 378 full-time mental health professionals working with the Canadian Forces and our government is working to hire more. In fact, when compared to NATO allies, the Canadian Forces has the greatest ratio of mental health care workers to personnel.

Care is provided through 38 primary care clinics and detachments and 26 mental health clinics across Canada. Our government has invested millions in new technology and infrastructure to better support and care for our troops and has dedicated funds to further enhance these efforts in the years to come. Through this work, Canada has become a world leader in fighting the stigmatization and raising awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other Operational Stress Injuries.

Our government is building on our record of caring for our ill and injured personnel. In 2010, our government announced $2 billion in enhanced allowances and benefits for Canada’s ill and injured military personnel and veterans. In that same year, we announced a $52.5 million Legacy of Care program to provide barrier-free transitional accommodations for rehabilitating personnel and their families, improve support services to those living in these accommodations, and a Canadian Forces Attendant Care Benefit to support caregivers who must sometimes relocate – and give up work – to be able to assist their loved ones.

The satellite detachment in Ottawa, and all mental health provider positions of that detachment, are being consolidated at CFB Petawawa. All personnel being treated at this facility were Petawawa-based members receiving treatment in Ottawa. Our government believes CF members are better treated where they work, train and live. This decision will significantly decrease the amount of time soldiers spend away from their families and their units as they will no longer have to travel to Ottawa for their appointments. Ill and injured personnel are still offered mental health programs at Montfort Hospital. To be clear, our decisions are based on the interests of those receiving treatment.

Our government has made the decision to ensure that the positions of all front line workers who treat ill and injured personnel are protected. Direct patient care is not being affected in any way by recent efficiency measures.

Our government will continue to build on these programs and provide the care that ill and injured personnel deserve.”
 

ModlrMike

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After her "crosses burning on lawn in Prince George" comment nothing Hedy Fry says can be taken with any seriousness.
 

Rifleman62

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The Union/Canadian Press (synonymous with the CBC)/NDP, all FL's as always.
 

The Bread Guy

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A bit more from the CDS via Toronto Star ....
The head of the Canadian military appealed for the country’s mental health professionals to come and work on remote bases where short-staffed doctors are struggling to treat a nation of psychologically battered soldiers.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk said Friday the Canadian Forces is trying to improve the care provided to soldiers who are suffering from post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, or at risk of suicide. But the military is fighting an uphill battle as psychiatrists and psychologists choose to practice in more populated communities.

“We have a great need to get qualified psychologists to work on our bases. That is where our men and women and their families need the support,” he said, pointing out that bases in Gagetown, N.B., Valcartier, Que., Shilo, Man., and Petawawa, Ont., are often isolated towns where the military personnel form the bulk of the population.

The urgency underlying Natynczyk’s public appeal was brought home by two reports. One showed there had been a sharp spike last year in the number of military suicides. Twenty soldiers killed themselves in 2011, up from 12 in 2010. Figures obtained by the Star showed that another 31 soldiers attempted suicide in 2011 ....

.... and The Canadian Press:
The military says it can compensate for the potential loss of mental-health research positions by relying on studies carried out by allies and other federal departments.

Senior officials, including the chief of defence staff and the head of military personnel, are responding to criticism over proposed cuts at Defence and the potential impact on soldiers returning from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress.

Rear Admiral Andrew Smith, who oversees military staffing, says no decision has been made on eliminating research and analyst positions.

Those experts have been notified by their union that their jobs could be cut.

Smith and the Forces' top commander, Gen. Walt Natynczyk say everything is being done to protect front-line health services.

Natynczyk says, however, there is a shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists at remote military bases across the country and he's appealing for volunteers to serve in such locations.

"The bottom line is that we want to improve the care we provide to our men and women. Any reductions or realignments we make are aimed at doing just that," the defence chief told a hastily arranged briefing Friday.

"Where the soldiers are; where their families are; that's where we want to put the care."

Two Ottawa-based civilian psychologists, who are treating roughly 40 soldiers from Petawawa, Ont., will soon begin travel back and forth instead of operating out of local office.

"It's fair to come back and look at the administration and management of the health-care system and have a critical review and analysis of it to look for efficiencies," said Smith. "That review continues." ....
 

Nemo888

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Hon. Peter MacKay his not honourable or reliable. I exchanged emails with him a few years ago. His promises are worthless.  At one time I hoped he would be the next PM.

Wouldn't cutting research mean stats will no longer be available. There will be no way to assess where the care dollars are needed or what services are working. Consider that the majority of suicide attempts go unreported and the high risk behavior soldiers choose instead of a traditional suicide will not be factored in. We are over a soldier trying to off themselves every week. Cuts now seem to be an Ottawa bean counters wet dream. Dead men don't collect pensions. Think of the savings.

To say they can't get health professionals is more than a bit disingenuous. My wife decided not to be an Army nurse because she could make over 15k more in her first year at the hospital without all the hassles of Army life.  I think they raised the pay significantly since then so they could get nurses who could do basic math. If you pay them a competitive wage they will come.
 

Armymedic

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First, there are no politician who is looking for future re-election that will do aything that will prevent them from being re-elected. This does make them more likely to promise what they can not deliver.

Second, the CF cutting research positions, in epidemiology does not in any way impact how front line care will b directe at out soldiers. PTSd, mental illness and suicide are not, by any means, the sole propitety of the Canadian military. In fact, much of the leading research in Canada is not done on soldiers. Those positions were report makers, not health care providers. The jobs they did are already duplicated in Health Canada. Cuts well made in my book.

Finally, you need more than a competative wage to get people to move out of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to live in places like Petawawa and Shilo. After 10-12 years of schooling, how many people do you thing want to live out in the rural parts away from larger centers and shared services. There is a very good econimic reason most medical specialty services are located in larger centers where more people can assess them.

Heck, Petawawa still cant get enough family doctors to serve the town, let alone pscyhiatrists to serve the soldiers.
 

mariomike

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Nemo888 said:
I think they raised the pay significantly since then so they could get nurses who could do basic math. If you pay them a competitive wage they will come.

For reference, if interested.
Includes nurses, pharmacists, dentists, psychiatrists, psychologists and others.

Salary disclosure for Ontario Hospitals and Boards of Public Health. ( Only includes those who made over $100,000 in 2011 ):
http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/publications/salarydisclosure/2012/hospit12.pdf
 
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