A report from the provincial auditor last week criticized the former Prince Albert Parkland Health Region for long wait times for mental health and addictions patients, and a Prince Albert woman told paNOW she and her daughter know about the issue firsthand.
Kelly Roode said her 15-year-old daughter has attempted suicide on several occasions in recent months, and she's had a real struggle getting help.
"I'm grieving for a child who is still here," Roode said.
Roode said she was left feeling helpless after she was told her daughter could have to wait at least two months to see a counselor. Brett Enns, executive director of primary care with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, told paNOW those lengthy wait times typically only happened after the patients were assessed as lower risk, though Roode said her daughter was admitted to the mental health unit at Victoria Hospital as recently as last week and did not speak with a counselor.
paNOW attempted to get further comment from the Saskatchewan Health Authority. They could not comment on any specific case due to privacy concerns but issued a statement regarding protocols.
"The issue of suicide is a serious concern for the SHA. We know that there are individuals in our community whose lives have been touched by this issue and our hearts go out to them," Enns said in the statement.
When an individual, youth or adult presents for concerns related to suicide or self-harm risk, Enns said the client is screened and assessed for risk by both a physician and a psychiatrist. Depending on the results, he said the client may or may not be admitted to the inpatient mental health unit. If they are admitted, Enns said it is because the risk is considered high. Treatment for the circumstances relating to the acute crisis is provided until the risk is lowered to the point where the client can return to the community with follow-up appointments and support, he said.
"The client returns to the community with a safety plan that the client has developed with the support of treatment staff to identify triggers and a plan of action for seeking help should the feelings of suicide or self-harm return," Enns said in the statement. "Those discharged from an inpatient unit are followed up with by outpatient services to reassess risk within 24 hours of discharge. Further follow-up appointments with psychiatrists and/or other outpatient services are also scheduled at the time of discharge."
Anyone with immediate concerns was advised to call the Saskatchewan Health Line or, in Prince Albert, contact Mental Health Outpatient Services.
Roode said her daughter was released from the hospital Sunday with a low-dose anti-depressant prescription and was told the hospital was the last resort option in her safety plan.
"It just seems like the people that are in the lower income bracket are the ones that are being forgotten," Roode said.
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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