Minding the gap in B.C.’s mental health system

Cameron Russell’s descent into depression began when he was eight. His parents would often find him sobbing hysterically, unwilling to leave his room.  

Russell was diagnosed with bipolar disorder years later, and found it wasn’t easy to find a psychiatrist in Vancouver willing to take on new patients. As his symptoms progressed, so did a series of futile attempts to secure long-term psychiatric treatment in a system, which over the years, has been forced to do less with less. 

Emergency departments at VGH and St. Paul’s Hospital together saw 16,562 mental health and substance misuse visits in 2015 — an increase of  75 per cent since 2009, according to statistics provided by Providence Health Care. 

Rumana D'Souza reports

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