B.C. has higher rates of hospital stays due to mental illness than the rest of Canada (Dr. Bill MacEwan, St. Paul's Hospital)

B.C. has the highest rate among the provinces for hospitalization due to mental illness and substance abuse, according to a national report released Thursday.

Most provinces have at least one mental health condition among their top 10 reasons for hospital admissions, but B.C. stands out with three: mood disorders; substance abuse; and delusional disorders, including schizophrenia. These are credited with more than six per cent of all hospital stays, double the national rate, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver could be considered ground zero in the changing landscape for treating mental illness. Its emergency ward saw an 88-per-cent increase in visits due to addictions and mental illness between 2009 and 2014, said Dr. Bill MacEwan, the hospital’s head of psychiatry.

Erin Ellis reports

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