Andre Courtemanche's mother calls for better, faster treatment of mental illness
VICTORIA -- Tomorrow will be one week since Andre Courtemanche was laid to rest and today his mother is calling for change.
“I just have to do something,” said Denise Courtemanche. “There are too many people suffering and it shouldn’t be pushed aside.”
She wants to see improvements to our health-care system when it comes to mental illness. Those improvements that she is calling for include a better coordinated plan when it comes to treatment and faster interventions when it comes to those who are considering ending their own life.
“I think when someone gets to the point where they go and ask for help, that it needs to be done in a more timely manner,” said Courtemanche.
Andre took his own life in early January after battling anxiety and depression.
“I don’t really know how long he struggled because he kept that inside,” said his mother.
In early 2019, Denise became aware of Andre’s struggles. By spring, after numerous attempts to get help, he was admitted to Victoria General Hospital. His stay lasted three weeks.
“We were waiting to see a psychiatrist and we were under the impression that it was going to happen very soon,” said Courtemanche.
Two years went by and still no word. Andre wandered away from his home in early January.
“Two days after he went missing, that’s when we got a phone call saying that he was going to have an appointment in February,” said his mother.
“It’s totally unacceptable,” said Dr. David Mensink, president of the British Columbia Psychological Association. “There’s too many hoops to jump through in order to see a psychologist.”
The British Columbia Psychological Association has been advocating for the province to cover psychologists under Medical Services Plan (MSP). Currently, that service is not covered.
“This would just provide one more avenue,” said Mensink. “We particularly think it’s needed with youth and also with people who are working and attempting to overcome addictions.”
He says if it was covered by MSP, there would be more resources in the system for people to access.
“That’s not going to happen without more funding,” said Courtemanche.
Denise would also like to see changes to doctor-patient confidentiality, especially when it comes to teenagers.
“People who are dealing with our children cannot disclose things to the parents without their consent,” said Courtemanche. “It always has to be done with the children in mind but when they are struggling themselves, I think it’s important that the parents can be involved to make the decisions.”
Changes that one grieving mother wants to see, so others can get the help that they need, when they need it.