10 Aug HEALING TAKES TIME, NOT MONEY
Content warning: This article contains discussions of mental health, depression, and anxiety. The author wants to acknowledge that these are a mere reflection of their experiences and that no two people have the same pathway forward.
In the years I’ve gone to therapy, I’ve learned how to begin coping with my chronic illness. Healing from trauma and learning to withstand feelings of depression and anxiety takes time, and the path is in no way linear. The highs of my mental health have easily slipped into lows, while at other times I have been able to dig myself out of the emotional mind and back into the wise mind. Regardless, I find myself jumping at the chance to tell my friends to access therapy services. There is no problem too small and no life too easy to attend therapy.
Common perceptions of psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, depict this form of therapy as a short-term solution for a short-term problem. Within the context of positive therapy experiences, we often hear stories about people who were ‘cured’ within the first session or month. For myself, the popular notion that therapy should be short-term with a concrete result has made me feel like I’m rooting for my own failure. I had to recognize, however, that my mental health is not reflective of anyone else’s. We are all on paths towards goals that look greatly different from each other.
I’ve heard friends and peers attempt to explain why their lives aren’t complicated enough to attend therapy or that their childhood was too easy. These perceptions neglect the nuances and complex ways mental health functions. It is not cut and paste for each individual, and there is no concrete mark or moment that would make an individual seek help. Mental health is so personal, and each individual can be afflicted with some struggle. When an average session costs more than the average weekly grocery bill, therapy is not financially accessible for all.
The growing wave of online therapy has worked in part to make this path towards healing more accessible; however, much work is still required to achieve a wider understanding in our society for the need to achieve and maintain ethical therapy fees. Many in Canada seeking mental health services, such as psychotherapy, suffer from high service costs, month to year-long wait times, insufficient program funding, and the inaccessibility of the information on where to receive help. Governments need to prioritize rehabilitation services; however, Canada continues to pour money into policing those struggling with mental health issues instead.
At the moment, Queen’s University provides students with one-on-one appointments with mental health professionals and general practitioners, available for booking by phone. For crises, Queen’s provides same-day contact to mental health professionals. Queen’s University also provides links to various online or by phone mental health supports, such as Empower Me, Good 2 Talk, TAO, and student mental health wellness groups and events throughout the year. For individuals not registered as students at Queen’s living in Kingston, KFL&A provides addiction and mental health services, ranging from walk-in crisis services to appointment opportunities. My interactions with psychiatrists and general practitioners when seeking mental health services have generally been spotty. However, the exceptions to my poor experiences are what make the work worth continuing.
Individuals suffering from mental health issues have become all too accustomed to mistreatment and malpractice within health services. Queen’s students have noted that they feel the services provided are ill-equipped to deal with the current mental health needs of the student body. Governments and private institutions, such as this school, may benefit from considering how to reallocate energy and funds into improving their mental health services while addressing the need for long-term support. When students are struggling to make appointments and their requests aren’t being met, it becomes apparent how the mental health system is failing us.
Calling a hotline or receiving a limited number of free therapy sessions will likely leave individuals experiencing long-term mental health issues unfulfilled and ill-equipped to support themselves in their continuous mental health battle. When such services are the only ones available and then branded as crisis services due to their short nature, yet are not accessible on a day of crisis, they fail to support both crises and long-term mental health issues. Queen’s students should have access to continuous forms of therapy and other mental health supports, yet the school describes their mental health services as a “short term mental health model” on their website. Mental health services need to be restructured and sustainably funded to provide students with accessible supports for long term issues, rather than just short term solutions for mental health concerns that will likely persist past the minimal support given at Queen’s.
In support of continuous service and free accessibility, the Queen’s Collaging Collective provides a healing space for expressing and strengthening mental health through the outlet of art. Despite limitations brought on by the pandemic, the club hosts virtual events that prioritize anti-oppressive conversations surrounding mental health. Further, the Queen’s Mental Health Initiative seeks to examine and spread awareness on intersectional mental health issues, engaging the community in discourse on equitable resolutions to systemic mental health issues.
For appointments with Queen’s mental health professionals and general practitioners
Call 613-533-2506 from 8 am – 4:30 pm Monday to Friday
For Queen’s same-day crisis services
Call 613-533-2506 from 8 am – 4:30 pm Monday to Friday
Visit in person at Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre, 1st floor, Mitchell Hall, 69 Union Street
For appointments with KFL&A mental health professionals and general practitioners
Call 613-544-1356 from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday to Friday
For KFL&A crisis phone line
Call 613-544-4229 or 1-866-616-6005
Walk-in services in the emergency department
Kingston General Hospital
76 Stuart Street
Hôtel Dieu Hospital
166 Brock Street
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: CHRISTY LUNDY