Vancouver hospitals predict 2015 will see emergency mental-health visits surpass 10,000 (St. Paul's Hospital)

Vancouver is experiencing a crisis in mental-health care that continues unchecked. That’s the conclusion Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang draws from data covering 2009 to the end of June 2015, which show emergency mental-health and substance-misuse hospital visits have increased every year and are on track to hit a record high come December.

“We clearly need more long-term mental-health care,” Jang said in a phone interview. “We know that there are so many people in the Downtown Eastside who don’t see or have any contact with mental-health professionals at all. So the emergency ward is very much becoming primary care. That is something that has to change.”

Jang was responding to information provided at theStraight’s request by Providence Health Care, which operates St. Paul’s Hospital, and Vancouver Coastal Health, which runs Vancouver General Hospital. The statistics show that during the first six months of this year, the two hospitals together saw 5,110 people experiencing a mental-health crisis admitted and 3,703 visits for substance-misuse problems such as a drug overdose. The comparable numbers for 2014 are 4,895 mental-health emergencies and 2,830 cases of substance-misuse issues.

Travis Lupick reports.

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