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Imagine you have experienced debilitating emotional distress, addictions or suicidal thoughts for many years. Perhaps you have been mhospitalized for them
I was in and out of hospital for severe anorexia nervosa for many years, and nearly died due to low weight. Because I was so ill, I was hospitalized for a long time. After discharge, I received intensive therapy as an outpatient. Without that frequency of treatment with a consistent and caring therapist I would have kept relapsing, cycling through hospitalizations and would have ultimately died. I still struggle on social assistance and I can't afford to buy the extra sessions I will need to maintain my health. I'm afraid what will become of me.
My psychotherapy story includes the Ontario government defunding long-term addiction and mental health supports.
With Ontario Health insurance covering the cost of mental health and addiction services I needed to cope with childhood trauma issues, and ODSP covering my income needs, I was able to attend and successfully complete both community college and an undergraduate degree program. I was able to secure casual, and part-time permanent employment.
Finding that ongoing mental health and addiction services stabilized me on the job, I continued accessing these services.
Since the Ontario government has defunded ongoing psychotherapy, for the last six years I have been unable to continue to access mental health and addiction services in a timely manner.
Without Ontario health insurance coverage, I have found that I am not able to continue to work.
I am relegated to a patchwork of brief therapy options that are covered by Ontario Health Insurance and/or work benefits.
Brief therapy does not meet my needs for intense trauma work with a qualified trauma-informed therapist.
With no work income I am unable to pay the $100 or more for weekly private psychotherapy sessions.
I languish on government income support program with less and less ability and motivation to participate in graduate school studies and the field of healthcare which provided me with an independent income.
My developmental trauma led to having Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Without OHIP insured psychotherapy I wouldn't be able to get the support and intervention I need, because this kind of specialist care requires long term and intensive psychotherapy that can be cost-prohibitive within a private practice.
Especially in Toronto where the cost of living does not match with living wages
In 2003, I was transferred to the province of Ontario from New Brunswick because Guelph offered a niche health care option for physicians that was unavailable on the East Coast.
I was also transferred because my care providers thought that I was likely to die.
Recovery upon arrival in Ontario was protracted and difficult, with many deteriorations along the way, but after a six month inpatient stay followed by several years of intensive, OHIP-funded psychotherapy, I was no longer at risk.
I write you now in 2020, after a productive writing and professional career, with a form of knowledge that is intensely felt and yet hard to explain. Inside, I know that I would be dead had I not encountered a few kind practitioners who did their work outside of a purely biomedical, drug-based model.
They did, of course, provide clinical care in the standard way; yet they also recognized that, without dedicated longitudinal, frequent, relational care, that I would die.
I remain grateful to them that they invested in me in the form of regular appointments, for if they had not, then the self that raised three children, that has received a Gold Medal from the Governor General for dissertation work, who attended Rideau Hall for recognition of scholarly achievement in another context, and who has supported dozens of disabled writers in Canada, would never have accomplished those things, would never have helped as many people.
My children would have lost their father, all for the sake of a hundred dear hours.
I continue to burn with a desire to help others, at least in part instilled in me by the generosity of your province.
As a New Brunswicker still living in Ontario these many years later, I implore you to retain your reputation as benevolent health care leader in Canada and preserve funding for the sickest among us.
For I know, personally and professionally, that the hours save lives.
It does you no good, dear Ontario, to restrict care from the sickest among us.
If you need to titrate your care away from those who do not need it in your estimation, I trust you will find a way to do that which would not withhold care from poor souls like myself, for a poor soul I remain, watching other people survive as best they can with the care they yet possess.
And who can tell the difference between the sick and the sickest?
It is hard to do, and I hope you pause, in your wisdom, and reflect on that fact.
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