Minister of Health and Wellness Randy Delorey promised Pictou County’s people Thursday that every effort is being made to recruit new psychiatrists.
The minister said that money and funding is already in place and the Nova Scotia Health Authority is actively recruiting mental health specialists both for Pictou County and elsewhere in Nova Scotia.
“Recruitment is ongoing,” Delorey told The News. “The positions are there.”
The minister did not rule out the possible recruitment of mental health professionals from abroad.
Already, Nova Scotia is recruiting new family doctors through a new provincial immigration stream. Three family physicians have been recruited at time of writing.
Other types of professionals may be recruited should foreign doctor recruitment be successful.
“The first step is to get this up and get this running,” said Delorey.
However, he added that not all mental health conditions require a psychiatrist’s intervention, saying that many community-based health supports remain available in Pictou County. These may include social workers and others as well as psychiatrists and psychologists.
The government is focusing its efforts on youth, as outlined in its 2018-19 budget providing an additional $1.6 million for the SchoolsPlus program, bringing the total provincial monies to $9.8 million.
SchoolsPlus is a one-stop shop for Nova Scotian school students to access support including mental health services.
Delorey said that his government was focusing on youth mental illness as such problems typically manifest themselves in adolescence, making early intervention and treatment key to successful health outcomes.
If mental illness is caught early, that person can go on to lead a more productive life.
“These are all initiatives we work towards,” said Delorey.
However, it may not all be smooth sailing for the government, as the Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions will be holding a strike vote after more than a year of bargaining and negotiations with the province.
The CHCU said in a release Thursday that a deal is needed so the government “can refocus their attention on addressing the crisis in health care.”
According to the CHCU, its side has tabled an entire collective agreement package, whereas management represent the NSHA and IWK has only offered individual proposals.