Nurses are ringing the alarm over Fraser Health Authority's planned cuts to mental health clinics in Burnaby and New Westminster.
Evening hours offered by six mental health clinics throughout the Lower Mainland will be phased out starting Sept. 1, according to the B.C. Nurses Union. The cuts mean clients can only get help between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
"Night clinics offer invaluable services to people who struggle with mental illness, many of whom can't get there during the day because of their work, volunteer or school schedules," said Debra McPherson, B.C. Nurses Union president, in a media release. "It makes no sense for Fraser Health to be reducing mental health services, when the need is greater than ever."
Some evening clinics have been opening twice a week until 8 p.m., accepting walk-in clients with a range of mental illnesses - from schizophrenia to anxiety or addiction issues - as well as others referred by physicians.
"Mental health services need to be accessible to all," McPherson said. "They need to be maintained at current levels, not cut. Many of the clients are the working poor and unlikely to have jobs that allow them to take time off during the day for doctor's appointments. They may wind up not getting the help they need in a time of crisis."
The clinics provide counselling, administer medication, group therapy and other services.
The union is also concerned about the ongoing lack of support for people in residential care units, where many clients have mental health issues, including dementia.
© Copyright 2013