30-40% of mental-health appointments being missed, Health PEI says
'We’re looking at a number of other programs that can be offered online to people in their homes'
Health PEI says 30 to 40 per cent of appointments for mental health services in the province are missed and that means longer wait times for everyone.
That number applies to individual counselling and therapy sessions, said Lorna Hutt, manager of community mental health and addictions west.
"I think it has been consistent over the last couple of years," she said.
She said Health PEI is working on ways to make sure people remember their appointments by contacting them by email or text instead of just a phone call beforehand.
Hutt said for most people missing appointments, things come up last minute, they forget or their priorities change.
"It really depends on the person," she said. "Oftentimes we just hear that people have forgotten their appointments."
Hutt said she hopes the email and text reminders will help more people keep their commitment.
"I think every opportunity to reach people in different ways improves chances of people making their appointments."
Pressure on the system
Hutt said she recognizes that struggles with depression and anxiety could make it difficult for some people to make their appointments.
"We're looking at a number of other programs that can be offered online to people in their homes. So we're really looking at building that part of our services," she said.
Hutt said there is always room for improvement, and Opposition health critic Trish Altass agrees.
Altass said the province could be doing more to look into why people are missing their appointments.
"What more can we do to support those who are struggling to make sure they are able to get to the appointments?" she said.
"Are we asking questions about access to transportation? Are we making sure that the services being offered to Islanders are the right fit at the right time?"
Altass said Islanders need the right services when they are ready for help — and those services need to be available.
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With files from Travis Kingdon